I HATE EVERYONE

A little girl experiences big feelings on her birthday.

The protagonist’s gender is implied by her dress and her bobbed hairstyle, and the first-person text immediately immerses readers in her negativity: “It’s my birthday. So boo! I hate all of you.” A scowling, up-close portrait of the pink-faced, dark-haired girl depicts her wearing a party hat and sticking her tongue out at the reader while clutching a stuffed toy. She’s yelling on the next spread in the middle of a crowd of people, who all have the same pink skin. It’s her party, and she’ll yell if she wants to, is the gist of the story from this point until the last few pages. Throughout, everyone else is remarkably patient and unbothered by her bad behavior, and the text eschews verbal responses or omniscient narration. Expressive, gestural illustrations adopt a low visual perspective to emulate a child’s point of view and end up stealing the show. But even their success can’t smooth over the narrative gap when, on a pair of facing pages, the girl suddenly and resolutely changes her tune. “Go away!” she shouts on the verso; “No! Stay! Can you stay even if I hate you?” she says on the recto, reducing the book to spectacle rather than story. While perhaps true to life, this lightning-fast shift is unsatisfying, as it asks readers to accept her change of heart as passively as the long-suffering partygoers accepted her hatred.

Not for everyone. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-874-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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