Boo-tiful.

READ REVIEW

YOU'RE MY BOO

A day in the life of a family is more than the sum of its adorable parts.

“You’re my peek-a-boo, my sneak-a-boo, / my laughing till-you-squeak-a-boo.” So begins this mother fox’s celebration of her quick, sneaky, funny, naughty little fox cub. All day long, the toddler plays, alternating between engaging its baby sibling and teasing it. And all day long, the mother cajoles, comforts, or corrects the child’s behavior, using the “boo” diminutive throughout, until at day’s end the child is comforted and tucked in to sleep. Adult readers with a low saccharine tolerance may shudder at the sweetness of the endeavor, but with its meticulous scansion and playful affection, it subtly morphs into a story that is both a silly name litany (always popular with young readers) and a quietly reassuring statement of continual mischief-proof parental love (“And no matter what you do… / you will always be my boo”). The book also draws a fairly neat line between the “boo” of “peek-a-boo” and the contemporary, affectionate slang term for “sweetheart.” Withrow’s accompanying pencil, collage, and digital art aptly illuminates the cub’s day, excelling in vignettes that illustrate the protagonist’s shenanigans even as the text delivers simple, one-word descriptions. In the end, it’s the love between parent and child that carries the story.

Boo-tiful. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4160-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones.

YOU ARE MY HAPPY

As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.

The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that’s the limit of this book’s achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to “my fuzzy one” but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments “For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best” is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—“That’s what made me happy”—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.

Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288789-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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