Absolutely charming—no subterfuge about that.

SECRET, SECRET AGENT GUY

The Franklin brothers are on a mission, and it’s called Operation Lollipop—but while the two boys execute their plans to liberate a lollipop from a kitchen cupboard, it seems another member of the Franklin household is out to foil the plan.

Franklin Brothers Investigations—the other FBI—are working to recover a coveted lollipop after bedtime. They’ve drawn a map, planted booby traps, and selected rendezvous points to keep from being caught by their parents, who are just steps away from the prize. The two brothers use walkie-talkies and a tablet to keep in contact while one stays upstairs and the other executes the mission. At the final checkpoint, though, the secret agent realizes that he’s been double-crossed when Secret Agent Girl (aka their sister) and the family dog retrieve the candy instead. This adorable bedtime book can be read to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and the meter and rhyme are perfect. The illustrations are full of action and easter egg–like details readers will enjoy finding night after night. Some of those cute details include the magnifying glasses on the secret agent’s pajama pants, the child’s drawing of the family that reveals the third sibling, and the sister secret agent’s own “lollipop plan” on her bedroom floor. The family appears to be mixed race, the father and children presenting with brown skin and dark brown hair, mom with white skin and light hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Absolutely charming—no subterfuge about that. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6921-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A handsome edition of an old favorite.

WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

The familiar cumulative game is played by four children, along with their father and their dog, at the typically British beach pictured on the lovely, expansive first endpaper. 

The children's real activities are shown in b&w drawings; the imaginative doings appear in full color. Although some of the color pages show perfectly possible events, most are clearly fantasy, suggesting just how close the two may be in children's minds. The family ends up in safe retreat in one big cozy bed; the bear is seen--on the second essential, beautiful endpaper--headed into a gloomy sea. Oxenbury's splendid watercolors and drawings perfectly evoke both landscape and the members of the questing family. 

A handsome edition of an old favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1989

ISBN: 978-0-689-50476-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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