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A young beaver sets off on an adventure, but can his friend Akita and his hot air balloon help Beaver find the way home?

While the cover may evoke memories of Richard Scarry, the contents quickly disabuse readers of that comparison. Rhyming couplets that are frequently off in terms of meter, scansion, and rhyme sink this effort: “ ‘Do you live in this romantic and colorful love nest?’ / ‘The bowerbird built this, Akita, and his sweetheart is impressed.’ " The duo’s trip, outlined on a world map at the end, includes looks in cross-section at the homes of foxes, bees, harvest mice, storks, termites, weaverbirds, bowerbirds, hermit crabs, sand tilefish, and prairie dogs before Beaver finds his lodge. But the text is not the only flaw here: the illustrations are busy and sure to keep readers occupied, but the animals are distractingly anthropomorphized. The male bowerbird presents the female with a single red rose, with lit candles and a bottle of champagne on ice in the background. The walruses sprawl on the ice in T-shirts, muscle T’s and trucker hats, the lone female in a skimpy purple bikini; most are holding drink cans in their flippers. Several animals are seen smoking. While the depiction of the beehive is a rare and refreshing exception to the unfortunate wasps’-nest norm, this colony has elected to build its comb from tree branches rather than in a hollow trunk and will probably perish come winter. Expressions are largely wooden, especially Beaver’s and Akita’s.

Skip. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-357-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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