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

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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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