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Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Ripe with puns, this tale turns on the question.

In word bubbles, an off-page child converses with a bevy of colorful, anthropomorphized foodstuffs while putting the produce away: “How’s everyone doing?” Lemon’s “Full of zest.” Strawberry says, “I was jammed in that bag.” When the tomato tries to climb into the fruit bowl, everyone questions his right. Tomato then lectures those assembled: Fruits develop from flowers, while veggies might be leaves, stems (asparagus), petals (artichokes, anyone?), or roots. He produces a wacky X-ray showing not only his seeds, but the bones of his skinny arms and legs. Each fruit and vegetable in Hoffmann’s digitally composed, hand-lettered gouache pictures sports simple facial features and sticklike limbs. The male tomato and “Old Man Produce”—a wizened prune with bushy gray brows—are explicitly gendered, while a lemon and pepper have full lips and eyelashes, implying they are female. The Old Man delivers a rambling, Zen-like speech that muddies the already-sketchy science. With their new knowledge, a pepper, bean, eggplant, cuke, avocado, snow pea, and yellow squash line up to climb the fruit bowl’s ladder. Hoffmann’s premise is a bit shaky. Some veggies are typically unrefrigerated (think potatoes), some fruits are regularly kept chilled, and many of those newly ensconced denizens of this fruit bowl (from peppers to squash) keep better in the fridge.

Inessential. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1991-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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