A clever twist on traditional dog-versus-cat animosity, with subtle overtones of sharing and tolerance.

UP ON BOB

Dog and cat meet cute and make friends.

Bob is a dachshund with huge, expressive eyes and a mission to sleep all day on a carefully made twin bed. The understated text works with the drolly humorous illustrations to describe Bob’s “hard work” of creating a perfectly comfy sleeping spot. The dog tosses stuffed animals off the bed, rumples up the bedding, knocks over a lamp, and then settles in to the chaos in a cozy nest of pillows and blankets. A set of cat ears appears behind the bed, and the cat is gradually revealed on subsequent pages, referred to in mysterious fashion only as Someone. The cat watches and waits and then, on a double-page-spread with great dramatic impact, leaps through the air toward Bob. This spread with the attacking cat has as text only the single word “POUNCE!” illustrated in huge letters with the effect of reverberating motion. Replacing “Bob” with “Someone,” the text then repeats all the steps Bob went through to create the perfect sleeping spot, this time with illustrations depicting the cat mauling Bob and crawling in next to the surprisingly tolerant dog for a long nap together. Both Bob and Someone the cat have irresistible expressions, with their huge eyes conveying emotion on every page. This funny story will have wide appeal, from preschoolers just learning about humor right up to new readers, who will be able to handle the brief text set in a large font

A clever twist on traditional dog-versus-cat animosity, with subtle overtones of sharing and tolerance. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-99471-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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