Pfister (Hopper's Treetop Adventure, p. 226, etc.) begins this book with his trademark fly-in-the-ointment approach: A happy bunch of cherubic cliff mice inhabit an idyllic island, where all is wonderful until winter forces the mice into dank, dark caves. One mouse, Milo, discovers a magical glowing stone (thereby allowing Pfister's other trademark—dazzling reflective elements—to take the stage) that provides heat. The other mice, understandably, would like stones for their caves. Balthazar, something of a sage, cautions that the stones belong to the island and something must be given in return for their use. The book's pages thus split in two: ``The Happy Ending'' appears on top, ``The Sad Ending'' below. The top story is predictable—each mouse fashions a decorative stone in gratitude. The bottom story takes a more compelling route, becoming a full-blown cautionary tale of the consequences of greed, envy, and environmental pillaging. In this duel of positive/negative examples, the negative clearly has more vigor and impact, and brings Pfister's message—about making wise ecological choices—home. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55858-682-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Mr. Fish heroically offers to find Ms. Clam’s lost pearl, and as he ventures forth, gentle suspense ensues when he finds himself heading for deeper and darker waters. Young readers will enjoy the energetic and detailed cartoon-like illustrations of this friendly-yet-mysterious underwater world (the scenes deep in the ocean trench are particularly effective), while the rollicking, rhythmic text will have readers diving in with Mr. Fish as he repeatedly admits, “I’m FAST as a sailfish, I’m STRONG as a shark, I’m SMART as dolphin…But I’m scared of the dark.” Fans of The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) will find just as much to love here, and any youngster who has been afraid of the dark will identify with Mr. Fish’s struggle. Luckily, our hero has dedicated friends who help him deal with his anxiety, continue on his quest and keep his promise to Ms. Clam. The final notes of friendship and bravery will resonate with young readers. An entertaining read-aloud and a nice lighthearted vehicle for dealing with fear. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-30798-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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