With silly scenarios and a surprise ending to tickle young readers, this circular story makes a terrific storytime read.

FINDERS KEEPERS

When is a hat not a hat? When it finds its way into the hands of Kasza’s lively cast of woodland creatures!

A squirrel marks the spot of his buried acorn with a red hat. But a strong wind blows the hat high up into a tree, and it lands next to a little bird. “Wow! What a terrific nest!” she chirps. “Finders, keepers.” Alas, the hat doesn’t stay put and next falls into a stream. A little ant spots it. “Yippee! What a nice boat!” he declares. “Finders, keepers.” Next, a bear splashing in the water pops it on his face and cries, “What a perfect clown nose!” And so it goes until the hat ends up right where it started. Kasza’s customary mix of media—colored pencil, gouache, and oil pastels—ably showcases the rich, vibrant colors of the woods and brings its energetic inhabitants to life. Her clever use of perspective and composition also helps tell the story from the characters' points of view. Pages are framed with grass and flowers, reflecting what small animals and insects see from ground level; the contrast between big and small is made evident, for example, when the bear’s big foot creates a colossal wave (for an insect) next to the ant in the stream.

With silly scenarios and a surprise ending to tickle young readers, this circular story makes a terrific storytime read. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16898-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.

I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE

A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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