Warm and cheerful with just a dash of house-hunting entertainment.

EUSTACE & CLYDE

Two koala bears look for a new home that’s a little less crowded and noisy, but the search isn’t so simple in Aizen’s (Mary Had a Little Lamb, 2013, etc.) newest picture book.

Eustace and Clyde are very different koalas: Eustace loves eating lots of leaves and spends most of the day “lazing on branches,” while Clyde is not so fond of leaves and “has no time for lazing on branches.” Despite—or perhaps because of—their differences, Eustace and Clyde are the very best and closest of friends. They live together and share a life, and when their treetop neighborhood proves too crowded, they go in search of “the perfect place for a koala pair.” They look at several new homes—one too cold, one too hot, some already occupied—and none fit quite right, so the pair happily settles back where they started, among friends and with each other. Despite characters and art seemingly attempting to follow in the steps of such landmark books as And Tango Makes Three, the attempt at LGBTQ representation is slightly undermined as the text explicitly and almost immediately identifies the koalas as friends. On the other hand, Aizen deploys a light but sincere narrative about a close, caring male friendship—a representation that’s also lacking and worthy of visibility—to gently poignant (if perhaps unintended) effect among playful illustrations.

Warm and cheerful with just a dash of house-hunting entertainment. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1502-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more