Fun with a capital F, this tale goes out to all those workaholic kids who need some.

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BEST DAY EVER

A visual treat for the observant.

Studious, bespectacled, all-about-business William, who presents white, has achieved five of his six goals for summer: earn Math Camp MVP, read 50 books, learn Spanish, obtain a black belt in karate, and perform a perfect guitar recital. But the sixth is a stumper: “have most fun ever!” He must also constantly ward off distractions from his gregarious, rambunctious neighbor Anna, a young, brown-skinned girl who keeps interrupting his serious attempts at fun with her harebrained make-believe play. Wearing wacky, hodgepodge outfits, she invites him on adventures, like jumping the Grand Canyon on their motorcycles “to escape from the GREEDY TOAD PIRATE who keeps trying to steal our TREASURE with his long, sticky tongue.” William’s homemade fun meter shows only the saddest face during his solo play while Anna’s activities make it grin broadly. Young readers will have a rollicking good time as they guess what the little girl next door will think up next. Sharp-eyed readers will also locate a curious host of entertaining animals that sobersides William fails to notice. Ceulemans’ delightfully inventive, fantastical crayon sketches divide Anna’s zany world from William’s matter-of-fact one, offering readers lots to notice and giggle about. By the conclusion, the animals and even William have been absorbed into Anna’s crayon-filled universe.

Fun with a capital F, this tale goes out to all those workaholic kids who need some. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3097-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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 thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection.

THE BAD SEED

Sometimes this sunflower seed can be just plain rotten!

The book’s self-professed scoundrel opens with a warning. “I’m a bad seed. / A baaaaaaaaaaad seed.” Even other seeds whisper in agreement: that’s one bad seed. What makes this seed so bad? Well, he’s always late and lies often. He stares and glares and never listens. He cuts in line all the time and never washes his hands or feet. And he does other horrible things too bad to list. Young readers (and some older ones as well) will chuckle at the list of misdeeds, then perhaps wonder whether they’re guilty of such baaaaaaaaaaad behavior themselves, but John aims for more fruitful ground. What makes a seed go bad? A tragic back story provides at least one reason for the badness. When the rogue seed decides “to be happy” by doing good, it’s not so hard to cheer for him. Loudly. The change may seem abrupt, although there is a sense that being good takes time. Throughout the story, Oswald’s digital, watercolor-infused illustrations keep the focus exclusively on the titular bad seed, depicting the world around him hilariously reacting to his misbehavior and using close-ups—sometimes extreme ones—for comical effect. Small moments of goodness appear that much more profound as a result.

A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246776-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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