Visually sophisticated in a totally accessible way.

LOUISE AND ANDIE

THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP

Louise and Art are back, bright-eyed and excited about their new neighbor.

Louise clutches her drawing papers and bursts with hope that the new kid next door loves art as much as she does. Her little brother, Art (whose name’s affectionate double meaning was featured in Louise Loves Art, 2014), is eager too. They’re in luck: Andie, despite half-mast eyelids implying reticence or blasé posturing in contrast to Louise’s and Art’s wide-eyed earnestness, is an artist as well. Details such as pop-art dog portraits and a pyramid of Campbell’s soup cans invoking retro advertisements create energy and spark, even for readers who don’t know the references. The three pink-skinned kids gleefully draw and paint together, squabble, separate, and ultimately resolve the dispute with, fittingly, more art. Their round-framed eyeglasses—Louise wears red frames with clear glass, while Andie wears black frames with blue glass—figure heavily in the artistic solution to their fight. Light uses black pencils and mostly red, blue, and gray digital coloring in her inventively composed spreads. In one, 13 scenes of the characters scatter across a double-page spread, each on its own piece of drawing paper. In another, readers have a (roughly) floor’s-eye view of the girls propped upside down, heads on the floor, legs on the bed, while Art dangles beside them.

Visually sophisticated in a totally accessible way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234440-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

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. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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