This darling story that celebrates love, friendship and perseverance is a thoroughgoing delight.

A MOUNTAIN OF FRIENDS

A charming picture book about the lengths friends will go to for one another.

The little penguin protagonist is sad, as while he is a bird, he cannot fly. Thus his wish to “soar above the clouds” is destined to fail, try as he might. But while penguin may not possess the ability to fly, he does have a caring and determined group of animal friends who work to make his dreams a reality. Turning their delightfully expressive gazes outward at readers, penguin’s friends ask them for help (“Yes, you!” exhorts the sign held in elephant’s trunk). A page turn instructs readers to turn the book clockwise and “see what happens,” resulting in a 90-degree change of orientation that has pages turning up-to-down instead of left-to-right. Readers are then made privy to the ways little penguin’s friends endeavor to help him achieve his goal. First, the animals take penguin to a hill...but the clouds are still far away. They then pile stones for penguin to stand on, and when that doesn’t work, they stack themselves in a teetering tower that occupies four vertical double-page spreads, till, finally, the “clouds are not too high.” Although some of the animals in the pileup are previously unintroduced in the story, they appear in the portrait gallery on the rear endpapers.

This darling story that celebrates love, friendship and perseverance is a thoroughgoing delight. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-313-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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