A sweet book, though it’s undermined by character choice.

DREAM

From the Wish series

A (gorilla) parent’s dream for a child.

First-person narration relates the joys and hopes a new parent feels in this offering from Cordell. “We looked upon you, impossible you, and we felt everything,” reads the text in an early spread, revealing heartfelt and earnest sentiments about parental love. This tone is undermined, however, by the painterly watercolor-and-ink illustrations of a semianthropomorphized gorilla family rather than a human family or even fully anthropomorphic animals. These gorillas live in furnished grass huts and use tools but go unclothed and walk on their knuckles. Are they gorillas in order to try to engage child readers with a text that is essentially about validating and representing parental love? Perhaps, but the juxtaposition is rather jarring. One gorilla parent is the text’s narrator/dreamer, and the dream envisions the child growing and changing, having triumphs and hardships. The child becomes a painter, and at the end of the dream, the parents stand in front of their small hut and wave goodbye as the child (now grown) leaves home with paintbrushes strapped to its back in something like a quiver. In waking life, the parents gaze at their infant in its crib and wonder “what will you dream?” and the book ends with a closing portrait of the family.

A sweet book, though it’s undermined by character choice. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7340-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A decent romp with a few drawbacks.

EVEN SUPERHEROES MAKE MISTAKES

Caped crusaders take responsibility.

Everybody makes mistakes, even superheroes. This picture book uses rhyming couplets and playful, cartoon artwork to illustrate a variety of scenarios in which masked avengers mess up. They trip and fall, they catch “the wrong guys,” they even oversleep. Regardless of their missteps, heroes always get back up and try again, and they certainly do their best to set things right. The author’s sermon on personal responsibility is a bit too long, but little readers will enjoy the variety of superheroics on display. The mix of superhero-specific misdeeds (muffing the alignment of a bridge they are building) with totally unrelated ones (singing off-key) feels totally arbitrary and a little unkind, but for children facing difficulties with their own behavior, this picture book that acknowledges that “perfection is rare” and an apology goes far certainly hits the spot. The illustrations are suitably dynamic and colorful, boasting a range of male and female superheroes of various sizes and colors. Two negatives to the art: A preponderance of identified “bandits” appear to be people of color, and all three female heroes are wasp-waisted, and two wear short shorts and midriff-baring tops while the guys are covered head to toe. These trends really, really need to go.

A decent romp with a few drawbacks. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2703-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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