SWARM OF BEES

A witty, thought-provoking triumph.

An angry kid wreaks havoc until a father’s restorative embrace brings love and forgiveness to child and community.

Tomato in hand, spite on his face, a young boy pulls his tomato-laden wagon across the front endpapers, straight for a bees’ nest. Readers will delight in the title page’s payoff, as the nest sways from the tomato’s impact and hostile bees pour forth. Through the town they fly with the boy, gauging possible targets: a sailor and his mother, workers, pets, apartment dwellers. All are considered by the clever narrator, who uses nursery rhyme–esque repetition. But then it’s revealed: The boy stung all the targets with his tomatoes! The aggrieved neighbors and bees now chase the child across a map full of tomato-splattered evidence. Acting as a metaphor for the emotional states of the characters, the bees are soon caught and calmed by a beekeeper while the boy is soothed by his father’s warm and loving embrace. The artwork, done with ink, rubber stamps, and digital collage, perfectly enhances the text, balancing its emotional depth with comedic beats. Rarely does a design so fully consider how images tell a story from cover to cover, from the swarm leading the eyes to the ingenious use of shapes, color, patterns, negative space, and framing. Mischief-makers will be captivated by its humor and promise of unconditional love and forgiveness; their caregivers will appreciate the exploration of emotions and possible responses.

A witty, thought-provoking triumph. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-39282-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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