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. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019


Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


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 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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