A feel-good digest of salutary sentiments, contradictory in spots but not overly earnest.

JUST GRIN AND BEAR IT!

WISDOM FROM BEAR COUNTRY

From the Berenstain Bears series

Homespun advice, Berenstain Bears style.

The art, drawn from many episodes in the long-running series of easy readers, is generally too generic to constitute a trip down Memory Lane for older fans, but despite frequent views of Mama Bear in her scandalously dated cap and housedress, it serves the accompanying pithy apothegms well enough. With occasional colloquial notes (“Don’t stress and give yourself a fright!”), the narrative offers a path to success and happiness paved with simple pleasures such as feeding ducks, taking naps…and occasionally cutting loose: “Lose your inhibitions” (illustrated with Brother and Sister Bear running around in their underwear); “Let yourself be a bit naughty” (trying on lipstick and shaving cream); and “Maybe it’s just time to par-tay” (the bears get down at what looks like a neighborhood block party). Elsewhere, such lines as “Beware procrastination,” “Never underestimate the value of hard work,” and “Get up and get going!” address readers uncomfortable with such seeming idleness. Still, despite a warning against too much TV (video games, internet) and a caution that the world is “full of sharks…and wolves,” the tone is positive overall and there is no heavy moralizing to dull the shiny precepts.

A feel-good digest of salutary sentiments, contradictory in spots but not overly earnest. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274133-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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