A book whose theme of opposite personalities being best friends is a welcome, uplifting one but whose illustrations lack...

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BIG AND LITTLE ARE BEST FRIENDS

An elephant and a mouse are best friends even though they have different tastes in just about everything.

Big, an elephant, and Little, a mouse, enjoy a close friendship that includes spending lots of time together, even though they have opposite tastes. Garland’s accessibly simple, rhyming text (set in a somewhat clunky typeface) spells it out in a no-nonsense back-and-forth style: “Big likes up, Little likes down. / Little likes square, Big likes round.” The litany encompasses a truly vast number of points on which Big and Little differ. By the end of the story, Garland reveals that Big and Little, being so different, occasionally have fights, but they always make up because they realize that they “are who they are. No need for a change!” And this message of acceptance of differences is heartening and much needed. Garland’s digitally rendered illustrations, while colorful and lively, are visually discordant. Soft blending within the mouse and the elephant figures is juxtaposed against their sharp outline edges—a visually jarring look. Impressionistic backgrounds and foregrounds, too, are interspersed with sharp-edged objects as well as photorealistic ones. The overall impression is one of too many digital effects that don’t harmonize well.

A book whose theme of opposite personalities being best friends is a welcome, uplifting one but whose illustrations lack visual coherence. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-87097-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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