An outstanding new chapter book with the cozy feel of a classic.




From the Our Friend Hedgehog series , Vol. 1

Hedgehog embarks on an unexpected adventure to rescue her friend Mutty.

Hedgehog and Mutty, two dear friends, “[spend] all their days together. Playing. Imagining. Dreaming.” That is, until the Terrible Storm whisks Mutty (who appears to be a stuffed dog) away from the tiny, midriver island they both live on. Aware that crying won’t solve anything, Hedgehog decides to set out on a rescue mission to bring her friend back. As Hedgehog searches for her lost friend, she encounters various characters such as Mole, who greets everyone she meets in a different language (French, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean), and Owl, who sprinkles lofty vocabulary (and definitions) into conversations. The remainder of the cast includes Hen and her Chicks, dapper Beaver, and a brown-skinned human girl named Annika Mae Flores. All together, they distinguish themselves by supporting Hedgehog in her friend’s rescue. Each personality bursts forth in Annika’s narration as the group assembles, acknowledges that their differences become their strengths, and forms a firm and committed community unit. Castillo’s endearing illustrations remind readers that friendships can be found in the most unexpected of places while their full-color softness balances Hedgehog’s action-packed adventures. Readers will appreciate the map shown in the beginning endpapers as they go back and trace Hedgehog’s journey. Challenging readers without overwhelming them, picture-book creator Castillo has achieved a gentle and triumphant pivot into chapter books.

An outstanding new chapter book with the cozy feel of a classic. (Fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6671-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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