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A VERY BIG BUNNY

It’s hard being the biggest bunny in class. Always last in line and too tall for schoolyard games, Amelia spends her days alone by the fence “counting clouds,” “listening to the wind” and “thinking about important things.” Then, a new rabbit joins her homeroom. Through parallel storytelling, readers find that Susannah, a “peanut” of a hare, is also rejected for her size. Intrepidly, the “pip-squeak” heads for Amelia, who refuses to interact with the charmingly persistent Susannah. But when Miss Arugula announces Picture Day, the little rabbit cooks up a top-secret plan. Together the two outcasts dazzle their schoolmates, and a friendship blooms. The gouache paintings have a well-organized and pleasing structure. At times Russo uses the bunnies’ ears as arrows, guiding readers’ eyes across the page, while in other instances Amelia’s ears signal her emotional state. A vibrant, primary palette done in construction-paper hues will have a warm familiarity for readers young and old. Readers will fall for feisty Susannah’s innocent determination and relate to Amelia’s self-conscious hesitancy. This tale proves there’s room for one more opposites-attract book on the shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-84463-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2009

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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