Dig into this playful, beachy read.


Lola’s beach day becomes more enjoyable when she gets a little help from some friends.

The opening text adopts a cumulative pattern, reading: “This is the sandcastle that Lola built. // This is the tall, tall tower / Of the sandcastle that Lola built.” Lola starts off her construction alone, but after she’s topped the tower with sea glass “that signals mermaids,” the narration is interrupted by Lola’s own words: “This is the foot—‘Hey! You stepped on my sandcastle!’ ” Lola immediately forgives the boy (called only “the dude with a Frisbee” or “Frisbee Dude”) who’s stepped on her sand castle and invites him to build with her. He adds a wall, and the cumulative text moves on…until it’s interrupted by the arrival of a toddler and his toy truck. This pattern continues, with lines added to the cumulative text as both the sand castle and the group of children building it get bigger. Then, Lola is bereft when a big wave destroys their creation, but her new friends convince her to build a new one, together. Berube’s illustrations, done in mixed media and collage, add visual humor and interest with their expressive depictions of the racially diverse children and background details—including mermaids hidden in clouds and sea. Lola has tan skin and straight, dark hair; Frisbee Dude has pale skin and curly, red hair, and the little toddler has medium brown skin and, adorably, no hair.

Dig into this playful, beachy read. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1615-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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