A picture book worth finding and befriending.

READ REVIEW

HOW TO FIND A FRIEND

Will lonely Squirrel and Rabbit ever find each other?

Squirrel and Rabbit are both newcomers to their community, which is helpfully mapped out on endpapers as a guide to the different places they visit alone. No other creatures show up except for two little slugs with arms who independently determine to help Squirrel and Rabbit meet and try unsuccessfully to direct their attention to each other on every spread. Alas, Squirrel and Rabbit are oblivious to the slugs’ respective efforts (“Perhaps they don’t speak Bug!” is the parting shot from the blue slug at book’s end, implying a lingua franca among insects and other creepy-crawlies), and Squirrel and Rabbit consistently miss seeing each other as they go about various activities, bemoaning their loneliness and isolation. There’s humor in these near-misses which allow readers, alongside the slugs, to know more than the protagonists do. In one scene, Squirrel thinks, “I wish I could just bump into someone,” as nuts from the cart she pulls across a bridge bean Rabbit, who is wading below. The bright palette used in the digitally enhanced linocut illustrations on the white, open spaces of the pages conveys optimism that, eventually, all will be well. A slapstick ending that has the pair literally run into each other brings about a satisfying and funny conclusion.

A picture book worth finding and befriending. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-92678-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Both perfect for Lola fans and likely to earn her ever more readers.

LOLA GOES TO SCHOOL

From the Lola & Leo series

After years of everyday joys with McQuinn and Beardshaw’s Lola, readers now watch her start school.

It “will be a bit like story time at the library, but Lola will stay by herself.” The little black girl “knows what to expect” because she’s visited the school with her mom. She is prepared with gifts from loved ones—“fun pencils” from Nana, a water bottle from Ty. The night before her “big day,” Lola lays out her outfit. In the morning, she tucks her stuffed kitty, Dinah, in her bag and poses for a snapshot. In the classroom, Miss Suzan, a white woman, shows her where to put her things. Lola spends time reading with her friend Julia, who has pale skin and black hair, and then they play dress-up. Her mom sits for a while before saying goodbye. After snack time and more play, there is circle time. Of course, “Lola knows the song and all the motions.” Picking Lola up at the end of the day, Mommy hugs her daughter. Beardshaw’s soft, slightly smudgy illustrations allow young readers to focus on one cozy moment at a time. Even at this milestone, Lola still appears quite tiny, and the text is no more complex than in previous books, making this a seamless transition from Lola’s younger days to her new life in school.

Both perfect for Lola fans and likely to earn her ever more readers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-938-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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