From the Chirri & Chirra series

Another delightful outing in this winsome Japanese series.

It’ll take more than rain to dampen the moods of indefatigable bicyclists Chirri and Chirra.

Of course, their ride in the rain is far from a slog. Shortly after the drops begin to fall, they happen upon a shop that is “only open on rainy days.” Inside, a squirrel family enjoys tea, and the pig shopkeeper welcomes the adventurers. After some tea, each buys a raincoat, and they set back out on a trip that only turns more magical: The rain starts “falling from below,” stopping at the bottoms of their wheels and lifting them up to treetop level (don’t question the physics; Chirri and Chirra certainly don’t trouble themselves); another shop has huge windows from which the kids can view the upside-down rain; outside again, they join some animals gathered around a gumdrop tree: “Chomp chomp, nom nom, yum yum.” The upside-down rain ends, and animals, children, and bikes are all in the canopy of the gumdrop tree. Not to worry: The gumdrops turn into balloons that float everyone safely back down. Doi’s trademark illustrations, made with colored pencils to evoke the look of mid-20th-century lithographs, depict the protagonists with pale skin, rosy cheeks, and black pageboys. They cycle ever to the right across the spreads, which take advantage of the book’s unusual trim size to open to a 6.5-inch-tall by 18-inch-wide panorama that’s somehow both cozy and expansive.

Another delightful outing in this winsome Japanese series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-307-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Close Quickview