Sumptuous, stunning, and heart-stirring.

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BLUE

This companion to Seeger’s Caldecott Honor book Green (2012) explores a fresh color’s visual and metaphorical permutations.

Seeger unfolds the entwined lives of a white boy and a golden Lab, from baby- and puppy-hood through a series of poignant transitions. Cleverly placed die cuts and rhymed, two-word phrases (set in ever crisp Helvetica Neue bold) anchor each double-page spread. To her many-hued blues, some thick with impasto, Seeger adds yellow, sienna, crimson, and green in scenes that transit fluidly among interiors and natural tableaux exploring the sea, a stormy night, a sun-dappled park, and more. At “baby blue,” puppy and toddler sleep among blue toys, sharing a small square of blue cloth—a future neckerchief they’ll trade throughout. For “berry blue,” boy pulls dog and a berry basket in a red wagon. The phrase “maybe blue” perches on a blob of yellow in the child’s vivid self-portrait with pet. (The dog traverses the picture, tracking yellow paint across the deep-blue ground, its die-cut paw prints mixing to make green.) At “very blue” the pair cavorts among blue butterflies, which fill the foreground in huge, delightful proximity. Later scenes depict the Lab’s inevitable aging, with the boy sitting (“so blue”) on a dock at sunset, his body bent in grief. Last, another transition: meeting a brown-skinned girl and her young sheepdog, the blue scrap now tucked in the teen’s back pocket.

Sumptuous, stunning, and heart-stirring. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-066-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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  • Caldecott Honor Book

CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy.

COZY

An agreeable Alaskan musk ox embodies that old Ben Franklin adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

When Cozy the ox is separated from his herd in the midst of a winter storm, he decides to wait it out. His massive size and warmth attract small animals—a lemming family and a snowshoe hare—desperate to escape the cold. However, as bigger, predatory creatures arrive, Cozy must lay down some “house rules” that grow with each new creature that arrives until they extend to: “Quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others!” Over time, the guests grow antsy, but at last spring arrives and Cozy can find his family. The tale is not dissimilar to another Jan Brett tale of cold weather and animals squeezing into a small space (The Mitten, 1989). Meticulous watercolors refrain from anthropomorphizing, rendering everyone, from massive Cozy to the tiniest of lemmings, in exquisite detail. This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial. Brett even includes little details about real musk oxen in the text (such as their tendency to form protective circles to surround their vulnerable young), but readers hoping for further information in any backmatter will be disappointed. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.3% of actual size.)

For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10979-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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