This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments.

COME, READ WITH ME

A fast flight through the settings of famous children’s stories.

This title begins with the happy faces of two young children—one with dark-brown skin and curly black hair and the other with lighter-brown skin and straight black hair. As the pages go by, the children explore the imaginary lands of famous fairy tales and stories. Full of smiles, the two friends travel through sea and air, pass castles and candy houses, and have tea in Wonderland. While the illustrations are double-page spreads pleasingly full of color and detail, it is the syncopation (or lack thereof) that makes the story awkward. “And a jungle of wild things who march to their very own beat. / Oh, the places we’ll go, the things you will meet.” With an uneven meter, the verses defy easy scansion. The literary references scale from short nursery rhymes, like “Humpty Dumpty” for the very young, to complex stories for older readers, like Charlotte’s Web and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The two characters just observe these places while the references whiz by, with up to five stories mentioned on a page; when copyrighted characters are depicted, they (appropriately) often look nothing like what children familiar with them will expect. Despite the potential for confusion, this title does pay homage to the wonderful world of imagination found in children’s books.

This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1787-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This pair of Spanish friends should find fans in the States. (Picture book. 3-5)

THE SCARY WIND

From the Hedgehog and Rabbit series

Are those swirling leaves…or a monster!?

Rabbit is eating cabbages in the garden while, nearby, Hedgehog searches for snails. A sudden wind comes up, stirring the colorful leaves, causing them to swirl in the air. Frightened, Rabbit screams and hides in a hollow log; Hedgehog follows him to find out what’s wrong. Shivering, Rabbit declares that there’s a big howling monster after them. When leaves blow into their hiding place, both animals panic and flee in opposite directions. After some running, both Rabbit and Hedgehog feel bad for leaving a friend alone with the scary beast and decide to return to help. Rabbit first adopts a disguise, smearing himself with mud and tying two branches onto his head to look like horns. Hedgehog rolls in a pile of colorful leaves and picks up two sticks to look like claws. When the two friends confront each other, they are scared all over again and run away…all over again. The running itself makes the disguises blow away, and before long the friends are reunited, eating in the garden as the wind continues to blow. Storyteller Albo offers straightforwardly simple silliness for the very young, who should love the heightened emotions and the repetition. Gómez makes both Rabbit and Hedgehog highly expressive; most compositions are uncluttered, and tiny details will keep children engaged. Series companion The Stubborn Cloud publishes simultaneously.

This pair of Spanish friends should find fans in the States. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-945971-7-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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