A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

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LARRY AND BOB

Two animal fathers form an unusual friendship in this quirky but touching picture book from author Schaufeld and illustrator Schwarz (The Lollipop Tree, 2013).

Larry is a bald eagle guarding his egg in a tall tree. Bob is a smallmouth bass, “protecting 19,003 eggs” in the river below. When Larry catches Bob, the fish doesn’t simply accept his fate as a meal; he appeals to Larry, “dad to dad,” agreeing to let the eagle eat him in one year, after his own fry are grown. Larry is skeptical but makes the deal, and ultimately, this decision saves the life of his chick, Larry Junior, whom Bob later rescues when he falls into the river. When Bob finally goes to meet his fate, Larry can’t eat him—after all, the fish saved his son. Instead, they form an unlikely friendship. The eagle confesses that, as a solitary bird, he feels lonely, and Bob, despite being surrounded by other fish, reveals that he feels the same. For years, the predator and prey meet at a rock, swim and fly upstream together, and talk about their problems. But eventually, Bob’s age catches up with him, and he asks Larry to take him on one last flight. Overall, this is a touching story, and Schaufeld tells it in a calm, melodic style. The placement of the two male characters as caregivers and primary parents puts a nice spin on gender expectations. Schwarz’s realistic paintings are beautifully rendered and include some exquisite landscapes. Kids will enjoy finding the dragonfly that Schwarz has hidden on each page, but adults will appreciate the illustrator’s unique eye; for example, several paintings show the fish’s perspective from underwater, and the textured results are suitable for framing.

A well-constructed book that depicts a healthy male friendship.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972299-0-5

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Quidne Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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