There are definitely lessons about taking only what you need, about care for the needs of others and about listening to what...

THE CLOUD SPINNER

A boy with a singular talent catches the eye of the king, with ominous results, but it turns out well.

In rhythmic text that holds an occasional rhyme, the story unfolds. The boy weaves wondrous cloth from the clouds: gold in the morning, white in the afternoon, crimson at sunset, “[j]ust as his mother had taught him.” His mother also taught him to be sparing, so he uses just enough to weave a white scarf to protect his head from the heat of the day, and a gold and crimson one to keep him warm in the cold. The king, recognizing the beauty of the scarves, demands the boy weave a scarf for him. The boy boldly says the king does not need this, but the king insists. When he gets the scarf, he wants a cloak and dresses for his wife and daughter besides. The boy sadly complies, but then there are no more clouds, hence no rain, and the kingdom suffers. The young princess, however, returns the weaving to the boy, who releases the yarn and restores the clouds. Much happens in Jay’s luminous, crackle-finish pictures. Almost every cloud adopts a shape, from hats to fishes and strange creatures. The hills and the houses have gentle or surprised faces made of flowers and wildlife or windows and doors, so subtle one only notices them on the second or third reading. Her figures have roly-poly bodies and tiny heads, her colors simply glow.

There are definitely lessons about taking only what you need, about care for the needs of others and about listening to what is unsaid, but they are fully inside the story and only add to the pleasure. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87011-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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