A nibble into chapter books for emerging readers.



A snail searches for the perfect home—for both his heart and his stomach.

Snail loves his “old rusty bucket full of sweet red strawberries.” Well, more the strawberries than the bucket—the strawberries are his breakfast, lunch, supper, and dessert. Snail loves strawberries so much he gets buried in them. His best friend, Ladybug, has to call out to him to make sure he’s still there. One day, Ladybug tries to convince Snail to go house hunting. She wants Snail to move closer to her (and away from the strawberries). Snail refuses until he nearly eats himself out of house and home, getting so sick that he throws up (readers will echo Ladybug’s revolted reaction). Together, Snail and Ladybug go on a grand, slightly dangerous adventure to find the house that’s just right. But can they make it past the hungry chicken? Snail’s second outing (Snail Has Lunch, 2016) is five short chapters of pure silliness. Peterson’s full-color cartoon illustrations—rendered without black outlines—adopt a bright, springtime feel. Spreads often combine descriptive text with dialogue in speech bubbles, with at most 12 sentences per page. Sentences vary in length and complexity, but pictorial cues, mostly white backgrounds, and deliberate text placement help keep the story accessible. However, some of the busier pages do look a bit cluttered without panels to guide readers.

A nibble into chapter books for emerging readers. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3185-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aladdin PIX

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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