Quiet and reflective, as fleeting as summertime itself.

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE ROAD

Three cousins come upon an old house and find something they never expected.

It’s summer vacation, so Patrick and his sibling, the narrator, take the bus as they always do to visit Grandma; their rambunctious cousin Robert is already there. The trio gathers Grandma’s old bikes to cycle around town, eventually coming across a dilapidated house. They decide to get closer. Robert dares to throw a rock at one of the windows. A spooky ghost face appears! The kids high-tail it off the property, Patrick jumping on behind the narrator and accidentally leaving his bike behind. When Grandma finds out what happened, she takes them all back to the house to apologize. The kids learn that the figure in the window wasn’t a ghost at all but a person. In fact, they may have all just made a new friend. Related in the unnamed sibling’s first-person, past-tense narration, this Canadian import is ultimately a sweet story of intergenerational friendship. The comic-book–panel layout, coupled with Rust’s mixed-media cartoon illustrations, gives a cinematic quality that builds suspense with each page turn. Speech bubbles provide additional details to the account, which reads like a reminiscence, through sparse dialogue. The colors, switching from bright and summery to spookily desaturated, evoke emotion. While the red-haired, freckled narrator character presents white, the others have darker, more ambiguous coloring.

Quiet and reflective, as fleeting as summertime itself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-335-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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