A child, a tree frog, and a poignant, poetic journey to find a sense of home.

DEAR TREEFROG

Sometimes all it takes is finding an unexpected friend, waiting and still, ready for play.

A young child with pale skin, short black hair, and (literally) almond-shaped eyes has just moved to a new home. Unsure of this big change, the child holds a cat stuffie and looks askance at the movers. Then a little frog catches the child’s eye. Spread by spread, season by season, lyrical poems tell the story of this budding friendship, in which the child learns to be still and see small details in this world, as an artist or scientist does. These deceptively simple poems contain a multitude of poetic devices. Short, expressive facts about tree frogs also accompany the poems. In playing with the frog, the child mimics its movements, and on one spread, they are both depicted with the same speckles and black outline. This oneness helps the child feel less lonely and eventually find a friend in a brown-skinned classmate who is equally still and observant. Sudyka’s bold lines and vivid watercolor palette paint an immersive, verdant world, with occasional color pops. Whimsical flourishes often blur the child’s real and imaginary worlds while concealed in the illustrations are names of birds, bugs, flowers, and more for young scientists to discover. Backmatter provides additional information about tree frogs, perfect for STEAM lessons. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A child, a tree frog, and a poignant, poetic journey to find a sense of home. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-06476-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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