Not what it says on the tin.

LOLA DUTCH

An energetic kid has an energetic day.

A tall, skinny white girl slides gleefully down a bannister, landing atop a tall bear who seems to be her guardian. Bear suggests tea and toast for breakfast, but Lola whips up a feast. At the library, “a little light reading” becomes stacks of books taller than Lola; at the park, Lola and Bear pause—not on a regular bridge but on Claude Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, inspired by Lola’s newly acquired knowledge of art. The pencil, gouache, and watercolor illustrations are whimsical and breezy, with a lovely airiness that helps give the lie to the piece’s premise. Both the opening lines—“This is Lola. Lola Dutch. Lola Dutch is a little bit much”—and Bear’s repetition of “a little bit much” or variations thereof imply a mischievous or melodramatic Lola. But in a picture-book world founded by Max and Eloise, Lola’s not intense or naughty; she’s merely exuberant. She elegantly re-creates Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam on her ceiling, adding herself and her friends to it. With a different illustrative style, a child-improvised Sistine Chapel at home could certainly be too “much,” but here it’s neither chaotic nor messy. Given that, the repeated premise chastises and chafes—and implies a call for quieter girls.

Not what it says on the tin. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-551-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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