Baby farm animals are fun, but they grow up—this book provides a sweet vicarious experience.


Adopting a young animal teaches responsibility and caring.

When Ila and her family move to the country in search of a simpler life, they take on more than they imagine when they adopt a newborn lamb. Ila lives with her hipster parents, her “grumpy teenage sister,” her baby sister, and three cats. The lamb, christened Albert, gives her a focus for maternal love and an education in caring for a young animal. Although the lamb is very tiny (“smaller than our cats!”), he has outsize needs. At first he lives in the kitchen but, due to his bathroom habits, is quickly moved to an outside barn, where he requires regular feeding and protection from predators. In spite of his material needs, he wins the hearts of the family. Even sister Sosi becomes less grumpy when Albert is around. As the lamb grows, Ila develops a routine for feeding and caring for him but worries about his need for socialization. When Ila notices that family members act a lot like sheep around Albert, she comes to the important realization that the family is fulfilling the role of the sheep’s flock even though they are not sheep. This sweetly naïve tale is told through cute cartoon-style black-and-white line drawings with pops of red, all on a somewhat harsh yellow background, and Ila’s straightforward narration, the latter set in a typeface that emulates hand printing. All human characters present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Baby farm animals are fun, but they grow up—this book provides a sweet vicarious experience. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6653-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Too many bugs, figuratively.


Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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