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From the Ella and Penguin series

Understanding each other’s unique needs is a tricky lesson to navigate—Ella and Penguin do so with charm and wit.

The kindly duo from Ella and Penguin Stick Together (2015) explore another friendship theme.

Penguin has found the perfect pair of striped pants to wear. But Ella is wearing a tutu and thinks that Penguin should wear one, too. After all, friends have to match. Penguin doesn’t want to disappoint, so he carefully squeezes into a tutu, his rosy cheeks growing redder with effort. A small “pfff” escapes his beak. When it is time for a snack, Ella suggests peppermints. Penguin decides he likes peppermints, too. “Because we’re friends! So we match!” Ella, the face of perfect contentment, delights in her candy, but Penguin spits his out in a minty rush. “Haaaaah! Hehhhhhh! Huuuuuh!” Poor Penguin, while getting the short end of the stick in every situation, is a comedic gem. Bonnet renders Penguin’s face into many agonizing contortions until suddenly he explodes in frustration: “This tutu is TOO TOO TIGHT!” Penguin and Ella’s friendship seems doomed. Friends have to like the same things, don’t they? Luckily, they realize they don’t have to match all the time. Maynor’s childcentric text is funny and empathetic. Ella is depicted as a little, light-skinned girl with dark hair, and Penguin is, well, a penguin.

Understanding each other’s unique needs is a tricky lesson to navigate—Ella and Penguin do so with charm and wit. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233089-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones.

What’s better than a cheerleading chicken?

Are you ever blue, unsure, tired, or overworked? Do you ever feel lost or overwhelmed? This uplifting book, expressed in delightful, jaunty verse, explains how to lift your spirits pronto: What you need is a booster chicken telling you’re doing great even when you’re not so confident, as when you’re learning or practicing a new skill, for instance. Your feathered champion will be right there, encouraging you all the way, with a loud “WOO HOO!” that’ll keep you going and remove any doubt you’re super terrific. But what if your cheerful chick errs and doesn’t do what it set out to do? Don’t worry—your cheery chicken just needs a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. That alone is a pep talk, enhanced by the wisdom that making mistakes allows everyone to learn and demonstrate they did their best. So forgive yourself, chickens! But the best thing is…instead of relying on someone else—like a chicken—to strengthen your ego, say a generous daily “WOO HOO!” to yourself. This riotous book hits all the right notes and does so succinctly and hilariously. The energetic, comical illustrations, in Boynton’s signature style, will elicit giggles and go far to make the book’s important point. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-48679-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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