Quiet, concise language and poignant watercolor illustrations pull readers into this far-out fable about a friendship...

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HOPPER AND WILSON

Two lumpy stuffed animals pack up a red balloon, wave goodbye to their potted pet cactus and set sail in a paper hat to find the end of the world—a place they hope has enough lemons for an endless supply of lemonade and a staircase to the moon!

Quiet, concise language and poignant watercolor illustrations pull readers into this far-out fable about a friendship between a toy elephant (Hopper) and a yellow mouse (Wilson). Children will immediately like these two funny little guys, whose exposed stitching make them seem both Velveteen and vulnerable. They’ll also fall for the book’s soothing cadence and rolling rhythms. Simple sentences beat up against gestural artwork like small waves on a ship’s bow. Sensitive line work and atmospheric washes of cool colors communicate the depth of Hopper and Wilson’s friendship and their shared despair when a storm separates them at sea. A frightening spread of the two caught in mammoth, murky waves causes trembles; a chilling, misty sequence of lonely Wilson calling hoarsely for his buddy brings tears. The reunion is inevitable and immensely moving. Hopper, a small, blurry smudge far, far away, shouts from an entire page of white space, “Wilson, is that you?” Winsomely ambiguous and otherworldly, this sweet, quirky story offers fantastic footholds for dizzying discussion. (Picture book. 4-12)

Pub Date: May 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25184-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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