While Cooke’s intentions are commendable, the main message she unintentionally conveys is that too much cuteness can be...

A LITTLE BOOK OF SLOTH

Children might enjoy the myriad pictures of cute critters in this photo essay set at the Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary, but it’s not likely they’ll sit still long enough to listen to the text.

Zoologist and videographer Cooke has already successfully expressed her support for sloths in several media. An online video she created was well-received and has spawned a film documentary, which will be expanded into an eight-part series next year. Unfortunately, what works well online—or even on the (big or small) screen—isn’t as successful on the page. The photos are crisp and clear, but they feature too many repetitive images. After the first few pages, it’s hard to tell one cute sloth clutching a tree, cuddling or snoozing, from another, despite the fact that Cooke informs readers that sloths belong to two different families (the Bradypus family and the Choloepus), distinguished by the number of claws they have and differences in color and size. The episodic text, overly precious descriptions and self-consciously humorous, adultcentric tone do nothing to strengthen the child appeal. Occasional Briticisms (“pop down to the shops”) and pop-culture references (“Baby sloths are Jedi masters of the hug”—irritatingly, Wookiee is misspelled) run the risk of further distancing young (American) listeners.

While Cooke’s intentions are commendable, the main message she unintentionally conveys is that too much cuteness can be cloying—and counterproductive. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4557-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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