Readers of all ages will easily identify with Ruthie’s trying day.

RUTHIE AND THE (NOT SO) VERY BUSY DAY

A child’s big plans for a perfect Saturday are altered by a combination of unforeseeable occurrences.

Like Judith Viorst’s Alexander, Ruthie is not having a good day. Gramma’s flooded basement cancels blueberry pancakes with the family in the morning and flower planting with Papa in the afternoon. When Momma reminds Ruthie about her cousin Buster’s birthday party, Ruthie does not want to go, saying he is mean. She relents, only to have her favorite dress ruined when the washing machine breaks down. Then traffic on the way home from shopping for a present forces her to miss her favorite cartoon, and then she drops the eggs preparing to bake cookies. Exasperated, Ruthie storms out, declaring it to be “the Worst Kind of Day EVER!” The disheartened Ruthie and her mom decide to make wishes on their dandelions—which appear to come true when a very flat tire finally keeps the family home to bake and allows Ruthie to restart her “Best Kind of Day.” Ruined plans are hard for little ones to take, and Rankin creates a believable scenario in which everything going wrong can somehow work out all right. Endearing illustrations of an anthropomorphized fox family depict both the chaos and pathos that are inevitable with this kind of day.

Readers of all ages will easily identify with Ruthie’s trying day. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59990-052-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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