WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

The Dillons create an eldritch world for this philosophical rhyme, which was first published 50 years ago with misguidedly twee art by Barbara Cooney. An owl interviews a succession of creatures: “Little Old Cat / Little Old Cat / Where have you been? / To see this and that / Said the Little Old Cat / That’s where I’ve been.” Squirrel, Fish, Bird, Horse, Toad, and others—each shown running or swimming, traveling by often unusual means, or posing at a destination, accompanied by small, winged, green- or purple-skinned human figures—reply to Owl’s queries in a similarly oblique vein. More polished than some of the fragmentary texts recently mined from Brown’s archives, this combines soothing verbal and visual rhythms with a sense of mystery that will leave young readers or listeners spellbound. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-028378-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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DIARY OF A WOMBAT

From the Diary of a Wombat series

A wombat, American readers will learn, is an adorable round creature that looks something like a small, pointy-eared bear and likes to sleep. It also has enormous claws, a prodigious appetite, and an unshakable determination to get what it wants. This imperturbable specimen keeps a diary that keenly describes her daily excitements: “Monday. Morning: Slept. Afternoon: Slept. Evening: Ate grass. Scratched. Night: Ate grass. Slept.” When new neighbors move in and prove to be an excellent source of carrots, the diary’s list expands to reveal the lengths this wombat will go (“Chewed hole in door”) to ensure a steady stream of the treat. Whatley’s acrylic vignettes, arranged sequentially across the spreads, are set against a generous white background and provide the perfect counterpoint to French’s deadpan narration. The tortured outline of a garbage can says it all when paired with, “Banged on large metal object till carrots appeared.” The level of irony involved requires sophisticated readers, but they will laugh out loud at the wombat’s antics—and breathe sighs of relief that she’s not their neighbor. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-38136-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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