A whimsical, heartfelt picture book about a little bird with a surprisingly big dream.

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Elvis the Penguin, Second Edition

A pompadour-touting penguin makes a bid for fame in Casanova’s zany, rollicking debut children’s book.

There’s quite a stir in a wildlife habitat on the grounds of a Las Vegas hotel when an odd-looking baby penguin hatches from his egg. Named for his highly unusual hairdo, Elvis quickly attracts attention, from the sneers of flamingos to the admiration of a female penguin named Lucy. When a convention of Elvis impersonators visits the zoo, the little penguin finds himself inspired by his namesake. Elvis’ antics occasionally get him into trouble, including painting his flippers to look like blue suede shoes and making an ill-fated attempt to bring a hound dog to the penguin enclosure. In spite of such mischief, though, there’s no dampening his enthusiasm, and he’s determined to make it big onstage in Las Vegas someday. Just when it seems that fame is out of reach, an encounter involving some showgirls and a fast-talking, street-savvy penguin named Mario offers Elvis a surprising chance—if he can outrun security guards. This quirky, upbeat, and undeniably fun children’s book is sure to make even the most reluctant Elvis fan want to join in and sing along. The author has a keen sense of humor, including zany touches such as a bad-boy gang of Bronx Zoo penguins and plot twists that reference the lyrics to Elvis Presley’s songs. Some of the pop-culture nods may be better understood by adults than by children, but the song snippets and the child-friendly backdrop of the zoo make this a perfect introduction to a bygone era of music history. The book’s only sour note is in its crayon-and-pencil illustrations, which offer well-drawn depictions of the characters but lack the polish and professionalism of the text.

A whimsical, heartfelt picture book about a little bird with a surprisingly big dream.

Pub Date: April 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9861763-0-2

Page Count: 39

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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