Kasza’s lively signature watercolor illustrations are the icing on this brightly colored cake.

MY LUCKY BIRTHDAY

Birthdays should be great fun. How awesome will Alligator Al’s be?

Alligator Al’s ready to find himself a big treat for his birthday when there’s a knock at his door. It’s a piglet! What luck! Al snatches the piglet and ties him in a potato sack despite the piggy’s protests that it’s his birthday, too. Al begins preparing to cook up his birthday visitor, but the piglet points out that no birthday’s complete without a birthday cake. Al agrees and follows the piglet’s instructions for making a yummy cake. Then the piglet reminds him awesome guys deserve fancy decorations on their birthdays. Al decorates, and he’s ready to start on his feast when the piglet says there ought to be guests; he offers to call his friends. With visions of a month’s—or a year’s!—worth of piglets, Al eagerly agrees...but piglet’s friends turn out to be a fearsome rhino, hippo, boar and gorilla! Al flees in fright, leaving Piglet and friends to celebrate in style. With this tale of turnabouts, storytime favorite Kasza delivers a sly companion to My Lucky Day (2003), adding a postscript that gives extra insight into the disingenuous porker’s M.O. Audiences of one or many will chortle at the trickery.

Kasza’s lively signature watercolor illustrations are the icing on this brightly colored cake. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25763-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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An A+ for Little E and his creator.

LITTLE EXCAVATOR

A petite excavator named Little E finds his place among a crew of full-sized, heavy-construction equipment working together to build a park.

The anthropomorphic Little E, with bright, friendly eyes and a cheery smile, invites readers into the story on the large-format cover. He is followed by a brown-and-white–spotted dog, which appears throughout the story as a friend to Little E. The construction vehicles arrive at an abandoned lot and begin working together to transform the property into a park. The rollicking, rhyming text names each type of rig and its function, including lots of sound effects and action verbs set in display type integrated into the illustrations: “Pusha-pusha smusha-smusha SMASH SMASH SMASH!” Little E tries to help with each step, but he is either too small or not strong enough for the task at hand. The last step of the park-construction project is the planting of a tree on an island reached by a bridge, but all the big rigs are too large to safely cross the wooden bridge. In a pitch-perfect conclusion, Little E is just the right size for the job. Dewdney, the late author/illustrator of the Llama Llama series, has constructed a solid winner for one of her final books, with an appealing main character, vibrant illustrations with varying perspectives, and an action-packed, rhyming text with sound effects just begging to be read aloud with dramatic effect.

An A+ for Little E and his creator. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99920-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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