A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels.

GUESS WHAT!?

From the Unlimited Squirrels series , Vol. 4

The Unlimited Squirrels hit the beach—“squirrel-style."

When three squirrels stick their heads through the frame to say hello, Zoom Squirrel bursts out: “GUESS WHAT!?” Surprised, the three squirrels collapse in a heap. Zoom Squirrel reveals that they are “going to the beach in seven days.” The countdown continues day after day as Zoom Squirrel hypes their trip through song, dance, and bragging. But when Wonder Squirrel wonders what Zoom Squirrel will do at the beach, Zoom Squirrel’s excitement turns to nervousness. Zoom Squirrel doesn’t know what to do! When beach day finally comes, Zoom Squirrel’s pals show what they like to do: playing in the sand, playing with the beach ball, and playing by the water. Zoom Squirrel tries it all. Nothing works out. But what’s one “bad day” after a “great week” of anticipation? As with others in the series, Willems’ fourth entry reads like a variety show with one “BIG Story” followed by short one-offs. Excellent comedic timing, expressive cartoon characters, and corny jokes keep the tone light and fun. Color-coded speech bubbles, “emote-acorns,” and bolded words help support readers in their decoding. The metafictive ending will give them a sense of accomplishment. Series fans won’t encounter anything new besides the countdown, which cleverly helps reinforce the concept of time. The “Beach Day!” and “Research Rodent!” pages add nonfiction elements and direct readers to the series website for more information.

A ray of sunshine—for readers and (most) squirrels. (sheet music) (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07093-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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