The tender, kind friendship outweighs the flaws.

READ REVIEW

SOMEDAY, NARWHAL

A tiny narwhal dreams of seeing the world beyond her fishbowl.

The little white narwhal’s entire universe seems to be an endless circle: the red front door, potted plant, umbrella stand, piano, and back to the red front door. She wants to travel, but she is worried about obstacles. She can’t walk, is afraid of getting lost, and doesn’t want to get cold. The little white boy who lives outside the bowl sympathizes. His diverse group of friends and their accompanying animals—a penguin, a giraffe, and a bat—are eager to help. They come up with a plan to wheel her through the neighborhood in a little red wagon, and off they go. She is thrilled with everything she sees, especially travel posters that hint of an even wider world. Mantchev keeps the tone simple and innocent, filled with wonder. The friends, both human and animal, are kind and encouraging in words and deeds. Yum’s childlike, softly hued, colored-pencil–and-gouache drawings complement the sweetness of the tale, and her animals more closely resemble cuddly toys than their real-life counterparts. However it is the central premise of the narwhal in a fishbowl that is problematic. That very tiny, cute creature is so far from the reality (5 feet long and 200 pounds at birth, with grayish-brown coloring) as to severely compromise the suspension of disbelief.

The tender, kind friendship outweighs the flaws. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7970-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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