For readers on the Pigeon end of the spectrum, this will hit the spot, but those who love Willems’ quieter protagonists may...

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A BUSY CREATURE'S DAY EATING

AN ALPHABETICAL SMORGASBORD

With Willems’ name on it, this abecedary is bound to be zany—and it is.

This over-the-top “smorgasbord” is a tale of a raucous creature that chomps and chews everything in sight, from A to Z. But wait—this is not one of Willems’ simple Elephant and Piggie early readers, nor is it the story of a little girl and her beloved stuffed bunny. This creature is not avian, but it’s a kissing cousin to Willems’ pigeon. The blocky purple character with googly orange eyes wears a blue-and-red–striped shirt and pants (or perhaps pajamas), and it has a black, bulbous nose and protruding white teeth. The beginning letters of its monumental meal stand for common edible items: “Apple! Berries! Cereal!” Then it goes bananas, eating “Furniture!…Kilt! Lunch Box! [and] Napkins!” that induce a run to the “POTTY!” No one will be surprised to learn that the creature is “Queasy” and needs to “Vomit.” An adult figure arrives on the scene with hugs and kisses (“XO-XO-XO!”), and the creature emits a huge “YAWN…” and is finally “Zonked.” Children will follow right along with the creature’s mishaps, and they will enjoy predicting (incorrectly) what it might eat and (correctly) what happens as its face starts to turn green. They’ll also appreciate the kindliness of the adult figure who shows no anger but instead tends lovingly to its charge.

For readers on the Pigeon end of the spectrum, this will hit the spot, but those who love Willems’ quieter protagonists may find it an abrupt change of pace. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01352-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Laugh-out-loud fun for all.

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NANETTE'S BAGUETTE

Hilarious complications ensue when Nanette’s mom gives her the responsibility of buying the family baguette.

She sets out on her errand and encounters lots of distractions along the way as she meets and greets Georgette, Suzette, Bret with his clarinet, Mr. Barnett and his pet, Antoinette. But she remembers her mission and buys the baguette from Juliette the baker. And oh, it is a wonderful large, warm, aromatic hunk of bread, so Nanette takes a taste and another and more—until there is nothing left. Maybe she needs to take a jet to Tibet. But she faces her mother and finds understanding, tenderness, and a surprise twist. Willems is at his outlandish best with line after line of “ettes” and their absurd rhymes, all the while demonstrating a deep knowledge of children’s thought processes. Nanette and the entire cast of characters are bright green frogs with very large round eyes, heavily outlined in black and clad in eccentric clothing and hats. A highly detailed village constructed of cardboard forms the background for Nanette’s adventures. Her every emotion explodes all over the pages in wildly expressive, colorful vignettes and an eye-popping use of emphatic display type. The endpapers follow the fate of the baguette from fresh and whole to chewed and gone. Demands for encores will surely follow.

Laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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