I LOVE VINCENT

Sweet, albeit somewhat visually overwhelming.

A guide dog describes how they assist their “best friend,” Vincent.

Scout, a black, googly-eyed pup, matter-of-factly explains that Vincent can’t see, so they “go everywhere together.” Vincent’s commands direct the pair to “all [their] favorite places,” including the park and a restaurant, while Scout ensures the streets are clear to cross. Noting that “being a guide is a big responsibility,” Scout explains that when in their harness, they can’t play or interact with others. But at the park, a double-page spread depicts a spirited game of fetch; an unharnessed Scout bounds across the pages, appearing to multiply as Vincent throws the stick “again / and again / and again” until the text fades with repetition. Once home, Scout and Vincent—who both have “excellent hearing”—snuggle and listen to records, their blissful expressions confirming Scout’s declaration: “I love Vincent and Vincent loves me!” Ljungkvist’s crisp, geometric illustrations add texture, but their busy colors and patterns may be visually taxing for some readers. A Scout’s-eye view of pedestrians’ pant legs is a forest of stripes, plaids, spirals, and more. Vincent’s pink plaid trousers compete with a purple-checked couch and pink-checkered tablecloth; red trees blend into a green background. Unfortunately, the clash of patterns extends to Vincent’s clothing, which risks implying that blind people can’t dress themselves—a potentially jarring note in an otherwise informative, upbeat portrayal of a guide dog team. Vincent presents White.

Sweet, albeit somewhat visually overwhelming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57687-986-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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THE LEAF THIEF

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

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