Maybe the story needed a little bit more growth in order to deliver a satisfying ending.


A little cub learns that there’s just no way to speed up growing up.

Little Bear doesn’t heed his parents’ advice to “Be patient” about growing up and instead decides to ask others for help. Neighbor Bear tells him to eat ice cream, Grandma Bear advises lemonade, Uncle Bear advocates bicycling, and Auntie Bear suggests painting. (Little Bear and his parents are polar bears, as are Uncle and Grandma Bear; Neighbor Bear and Auntie Bear have brown fur.) Alas, nothing helps him grow in size, though perhaps the underlying message is that pleasurable experiences make the journey to growing up go by more quickly? Otherwise readers may feel that these grown-up bears are stringing the earnest little cub along with their nonsensical, playful advice. At the book’s end the crestfallen, still-small cub returns to his parents, and they reassure him that he will “grow a little but every day. Just like that!” without doing anything special. A closing spread depicts the trio in a bear hug but misses an opportunity to show the little cub in the future all grown up or even just a bit bigger as evidence to reassure similarly distressed readers. The pastel-hued illustrations are equally insubstantial, though children will get some chuckles at the sight of Little Bear on the pot after many glasses of lemonade.

Maybe the story needed a little bit more growth in order to deliver a satisfying ending. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60537-408-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.


From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.


You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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