What’s “puzzling” is how this could be regarded as even marginally worthy of its audience or the institution that published...

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PUZZLING DOGS

A bound album of jigsaw puzzles made from images of dogs found in paintings or other works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Each of the eight puzzles, which range from a Renoir and a panel of 18th-century Indian fabric to a watercolor copy of a Mycenaean fresco, is cut with the same pattern into just 16 large pieces and, to make reassembly easy for the intended 3-and-over audience, embedded in a finished view. Most of the pictures are enlarged details, which blurs many of the painted pooches, their settings, and other figures and muddies up the colors. This low-rent look is intensified by an inexplicable design decision to print the solid background colors of each facing leaf with heavy abrasion, so that the whole volume appears worn by use even when new. Each image is introduced with an often inane leading question: “The artist copied part of a painting that was made on a wall more than three thousand years ago. Can you count that high?” Moreover, Falken incorrectly describes block-print production and offers technical notes (references to Renoir’s “loose, broken brushstrokes” and to another artist’s preliminary sketch rather than the finished oil painting that is actually shown) that will leave children, at least, no wiser. Puzzling Cats, a companion volume, isn’t any better produced or written.

What’s “puzzling” is how this could be regarded as even marginally worthy of its audience or the institution that published it. (Novelty. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1362-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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