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A sweet, fun romp through a winter forest with a goofy protagonist kids will love.

When a bear wakes up early from hibernation, he can’t seem to remember what kind of animal he is.

In his search for his forgotten identity, the bear wanders the snowy forest, observing the creatures all around him. He attempts to emulate each animal he sees, but all to no avail. When he tries to be a bird, he realizes he cannot fly. When he tries to be a moose, he realizes he can’t stand the taste of grass. When he tries to be a fox, he fails to prance. And when he tries to be a squirrel, he doesn’t like having to climb so high. Finally, the narrator tells the bear that he’s woken up from hibernation in December, instead of in the spring, and reassures him that when he does wake up, he’ll know exactly who he is. The bear obediently goes back into his cave and settles into a cozy slumber. Happily, the rest does wonders for the bear’s memory, and the spring brings a happy ending, accompanied by a suitably colorful and cheerful illustration. The book’s rhyming text is charming, funny, and delightful to read aloud. Unfortunately, the shift from third to second person is jarring and, on the first read through, confusing in its abruptness. The gorgeous, softly textured illustrations effectively enhance the story’s witty twists and turns. Particularly charming is the bear’s expressive face, which effectively conveys his confusion, frustration, sadness, and joy.

A sweet, fun romp through a winter forest with a goofy protagonist kids will love. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1202-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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

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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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