PLAYGROUND

A playful book about play.

Text is subordinate to the compellingly vibrant, free-form pen, crayon, and watercolor illustrations in this highly original import from Dutch artist van Hout. The brightly colored endpapers and the instruction to “Find the way with your finger” give the first clue that this is actually a maze book, although it’s not described as such. The protagonists, a little white boy and girl and an orange cat, set off to find the playground. In this universe, it is better to travel than to arrive: the wild and wacky mazes they navigate—bright magenta and red dunes, blue swamp, berry-patch maze, cliff slide, mountain, puffy clouds, scary cave complete with bats and a multicolored monster—are infinitely more interesting than the conventional black-and-white swing set which rewards their efforts. On each bright spread, an increasing number of animals tags along, and the fox, goat, crocodile, ants, penguins, deer, and goat become part of the Greek chorus reacting to the relatively dull conclusion of the quest. Beautifully produced, with a humorous detail at every turn of the mazes, this book will give endless hours of point-and-trace fun to young children and their caregivers. The clever mazes encourage children to interact with the images every bit as meaningfully as with a digital medium.

Thrilling. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935954-51-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As gentle and unassuming as Oliver, this story thoroughly charms.

OLIVER'S TREE

It’s no fun for anyone when someone is left out!

Baby elephant Oliver has two very good friends: Lulu, an owlet, and Charlie, a bunny. Playing outside is something they love to do, but the happy trio runs into trouble while trying to climb trees, because Oliver just can’t manage due to his bulk. Warm, appealing watercolors defined with pen and ink and containing just the right amount of detail show the three friends as they patiently search for a tree that is perfect for all of them. Simple text describes their trial and error, as they find trees that are too small, too weak or too tall. “It’s hopeless!” wails Oliver. “Elephants just don’t belong in trees!” When Oliver, exhausted by their efforts, succumbs to sleep, Lulu and Charlie hatch a plan to solve the problem by using their own unique talents. Will they succeed and provide Oliver with a happy surprise? No doubt! Suffused with warmth and gentle humor, this deceptively simple story demonstrates the power of friendship, the importance of working together and problem-solving, while simultaneously introducing basic concepts (high/low, tall/short) in a pleasing, organic way. Young children will root for the three friends, enjoy the mild suspense and delight in the very satisfying ending.

As gentle and unassuming as Oliver, this story thoroughly charms. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25700-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more