ALL ALONG THE RIVER

This charmer demands and rewards repeat visits, and children will find unexpected pleasures every time.

Some rabbits sail down a river looking for a lost toy duck.

As Bunny plays with her toy in the small river near her home, it floats away; her two brothers immediately join the search effort. Adventure ensues as the trio pursues the yellow, red-scarfed duck in their boat, following the river as it courses through forests, pastures, waterfalls, flower fields, and farmland and past assorted structures. Alas, the duck consistently eludes them. This is where the reading/listening audience comes in, invited from the outset to collaborate in the Where’s Waldo?–type investigation. And the enterprise is playfully challenging, seeing as how the duck isn’t always willing to be located too easily. Expect kids to have great fun poring over the numerous tiny, sometimes complex, details incorporated into the delicate, colorful, busy line illustrations that fill every spread—along with myriad other anthropomorphic animal protagonists; information about how those characters fit into the grand scheme of things appears on an introductory spread before the book’s title page. There’s just enough minimal, pithy text per spread, often with tantalizing hints to the duck’s possible whereabouts, but the illustrations, naturally, are the main focus and draw. The ending presents two surprises—hint: The journey wasn’t exactly what it seemed—and a hitherto-unheralded creature invites readers to return to the illustrations and locate it.

This charmer demands and rewards repeat visits, and children will find unexpected pleasures every time. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60537-518-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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