This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent.

LOVE, TRIANGLE

When can a Triangle cause real trouble?

When it comes between Circle and Square, true best friends “since they were a dot and a speck.” Each shape is anthropomorphized: stick-figure hands and feet, different types of eyes, stereotypical spectacles for the squarish “bookworm,” yellow-striped headband for Circle, who “knew how to rock and roll,” and cool blue forelock for the “bold and exciting Triangle.” Colors in retro-style digital illustrations look a little toned down from bright crayon colors but still pop. The basic shapes are echoed and sometimes combined in other illustration elements. Adults may want to point these out or ask young children to search for them (the four triangles in a grilled-cheese sandwich, a party hat), but this book also focuses on what happens when a new, third person changes the relationship of an established pair. The text and illustrations attempt to make these emotional changes (and the reactions to them) tangible, but they sometimes fail by using visual and verbal puns that will not be fully understood by child readers. When Square and Circle pull too hard on Triangle’s sides, the shape becomes “pointless” and Triangle’s body disappears, leaving only his facial features, for instance. To solve the problem, Square repairs to the library and the lab, Circle trains hard, and they both work together to bring back their friend, forming “quite a trio.”

This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241084-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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