Cute and playful, like its featured critter.

RIVER OTTER'S ADVENTURE

A river otter plays guide in this informative picture book that’s part guessing game, part adventure.

Realistic paintings dominated by greens and blues introduce an otter pup as she scrambles up a riverbank and wanders into a zoo. There, both readers and otter meet various animals as the latter contemplates each and decides which she’d like to emulate that day. With each speculation, a different basic river-otter attribute, such as whiskers or claws, is introduced. It might be fun to dig like a naked mole rat, for instance, but the otter would miss her “fuzzity-fluff fur” that keeps her warm and dry…like a musk ox, the next animal. In-depth information and a comparison with sea otters are found in backmatter. Each animal is illustrated with minimal anthropomorphic qualities, and action words in large, capitalized text describe their actions. When the otter mimics the tiger, the words used are “POUNCE / ROARING / SILENT / STALKING,” offering chances for children to act them out. Inconsistency in the parts of speech and verb forms presented is a significant weakness. The repetitive format will soothe younger children and build confidence in older ones. The introduction of exotic animals among more-familiar ones adds variety. Some readers might see the river otter’s journey as a support of identity play and self-acceptance; others can simply indulge in all the ways to act like animals. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

Cute and playful, like its featured critter. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64351-751-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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