Slim plot, weak humor and lackluster appeal will leave preschoolers asking for more substantial fare.

HAPPY HARRY'S CAFÉ

The picture-book crowd will most likely find this thin story bland and unsatisfying.

Happy Harry is a pleasant-enough white bear dishing out what appears to be delicious tomato soup at his café. Since the soup is so popular, all of “his friends come running for Harry’s soup before Harry’s soup runs out.” Soon Ryan the lion, Jo the crow, Robin the robin and Matt the cat come rushing in. As each friend arrives Harry says, “Take it easy…” and serves a bowl of soup. Most of the friends exclaim how wonderful it tastes, but Matt the cat declares, “The soup’s no good.” Usually happy Harry seems alarmed and agrees to try the soup at the cat’s urging. When Harry goes to taste the soup, he discovers that there is no spoon. This cheers up Matt immediately: “That’s it, Harry! There’s no spoon. That’s what’s wrong with the soup…!” The page turn shows everyone loudly laughing, and a few pages later Harry and Matt break into a song about the soup and their silly misunderstanding. Holland adds little spice with mixed-media illustrations in a palette of muted red, yellow-orange, sage green, white and gray.

Slim plot, weak humor and lackluster appeal will leave preschoolers asking for more substantial fare. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6239-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.

I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE

A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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