WHAT DO THE FAIRIES DO WITH ALL THOSE TEETH?

A picture book manquÇ, consisting of hypothetical answers to the question posed by the title: Do fairies choose the sharpest teeth to make their saws? Or the roundest ones to make maraca sounds? On such inconclusive musings the story quickly fizzles: It has no backbone, and the ideas are not nearly imaginative enough to grab readers. The book is kept afloat by comic watercolors; endearingly messy fairies are busy in each scene, sincere in their efforts to make use of the horde. The premise suits children's sensibilities perfectly, but its execution lacks bite. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-55209-001-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.

WHILE WE CAN'T HUG

From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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It’s hard to judge intent, but even if this might provide lighthearted reassurance for young squinters, it’s going to leave...

I CAN SEE JUST FINE

Repeatedly uttering the titular protest, a child is dragged off to “see” the eye doctor in this neatly drawn, too neatly resolved take on a common experience.

Paige’s inability to make out what’s on the class chalkboard is just one of a set of symptoms that trigger a day off from school, an eye exam, a chance to try on a zillion pairs of eyeglass frames and, after a fitting, a whole new, sharply focused world. But if the textual narrative is pretty straightforward, the visual subtext is not. The climactic fuzzy-to-sharp spread implies that Paige’s affliction is really no more than simple myopia, but cues scattered through Barclay’s bright, simple cartoon illustrations point, if apparently unintentionally, to more complex vision (or other) problems. Paige wears mismatched shoes of different colors; in one scene, she “reads” a book held upside down; most egregiously, she happily cuddles a “kitty” that is actually a skunk (later, she identifies it correctly and still cuddles it). Even the final scene, in which Paige pours orange juice into her breakfast cereal while disagreeing with her mother’s remark that her glasses are too dirty to see through, doesn’t quite come off as a joke.

It’s hard to judge intent, but even if this might provide lighthearted reassurance for young squinters, it’s going to leave more observant parents and other caregivers disquieted, at best. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0801-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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