A nice, gentle reminder that it takes two to make a friendship work

PLAY WITH ME!

Two friends with different ideas of fun find a way to play together.

A little pig named Pip tries in vain to interest Nico the bear in playing with toys. Nico agrees to play—the cello. Pip tries to entice Nico with a wagon full of stories and lots of ideas for games, from dressing up like heroes to playing dolls, but Nico declines each one. Lots of white space and a playful typeface set the stage for the possibility of Nico’s coming around, but Pip just becomes more and more frustrated as Nico serenely makes music. Pip finally gets Nico’s attention by hollering, “I meant play with me!!!” Young children will relate to Pip’s exuberance and exasperation while also appreciating that sometimes you just want to do your own thing. Lee’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the emotions of each character—Nico’s joy of music and patience toward Pip, whose tail even looks despondent as it seems more and more likely that they won’t be playing together. Playful touches—Nico knocks over Pip’s block tower with the bow; Pip uses the scroll of Nico’s cello to tie one end of a jump rope. This first picture book by author and illustrator Lee gives lots of room for children to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations.

A nice, gentle reminder that it takes two to make a friendship work . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54601-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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