PRESCHOOL TO THE RESCUE

In this mini-adventure, the grumpy villain is a deceptively deep puddle. The crafty mud first lures a pizza truck into its apparently shallow depths: "Slurp." Followed in short order is a police car—"Glurp." As more vehicles come to the rescue ("Blurp," "Flurp," "Plurp"), they all succumb to the muddy, sticky gunk and stuck they stay, but before the young reader can despair, it's "preschool to the rescue!" The perspective suddenly widens, and the viewer sees that the vehicles are toys. As they rush onto the schoolyard, each lively preschool animal is armed with a shovel or a Popsicle stick and they go to work extricating the little trucks. Once they have done that, they utterly vanquish the mud puddle by fashioning it into pies, pizzas, and cookies, getting wonderfully grubby in the process. Sierra (The Gift of the Crocodile, 2000, etc.) tells her chirpy story in repetitive prose as the puddle victims accumulate. Hillenbrand's (Kiss the Cow, 2000, etc.) illustrations are double-paged delights. The mud puddle is not merely brown, but illuminated by subtle hues of purple, blue, pink, green, turquoise, red, and orange while still retaining its essential muckiness (and two eyes and a nose). The preschoolers dressed in ultra-bright rain gear make it clear that a little mud never hurt anyone—in fact, it might even add to the fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202035-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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