CIRCLE, SQUARE, MOOSE

Moose is back! Hooray—unless you are a book about circles and squares.

The simple concept book starts off well enough with a button representing a circle and a sandwich representing a square. And then mischief and mayhem erupt as Moose takes an enormous bite out of the sandwich. Admonitions from the book follow, and then it attempts to continue with a wedge of cheese and a slice of pie to illustrate triangles. Alas, Moose interrupts again, presenting a cat with triangular ears. Leave the book, they are told. More Moose antics ensue with rectangles and diamonds. The book grows ever more frantic, and fortunately Zebra arrives to salvage the exercise. Or does he? Zebra appears hopelessly tangled in ribbon (a curve) when Moose steps in to save the day with a circle that becomes a hole through which they escape the book. Moose then presents his friend with the last shape, a star. It is a great joy to watch Bingham and Zelinsky, who brilliantly collaborated on Z Is for Moose (2012), once more let Moose loose to naughtily and enthusiastically disrupt reading. Bingham’s text is both straightforward and filled with humorous speech bubbles. Zelinsky digitally manipulates his palette of bright colors to fill the pages with sly clues, fast-paced action, expressive typefaces and animals with winning personalities. Are further books in Moose’s future?

Hilarious fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229003-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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