Multiples and singletons alike will appreciate Anny’s and Allie’s nuanced identities.

ANNY AND ALLIE

Problem-solving, twins style.

The illustrator of the Rotten Ralph series, the author of Twice as Nice: What It’s Like to Be a Twin (2004), and an identical twin herself, Rubel combines these facets of her creative and personal lives in this picture book that spotlights a common identical-twin dilemma: when people can’t tell you apart. In an anthropomorphized animal world, Anny and Allie are identical-twin alligator sisters. At school, Allie mischievously ruins Anny’s painting, and their teacher, Mr. Bear, mistakenly reprimands the wrong twin. That night, their mom mistakenly reminds the wrong twin to brush her teeth. Frustrated, the girls brainstorm creative ways to make themselves distinguishable to others. They try individualized hair bows (they have no visible hair), different shoes, and nametags, but gentle amusement ensues when the hair bows flop, rain forces them to wear the same galoshes, and their nametags fall off at recess. They find the solution when Mr. Bear sets out alphabet beads that can be turned into name necklaces. In the bright and energetic digital illustrations, the book celebrates Anny’s and Allie’s individuality as Anny, under her pink, heart-shaped quilt, dreams of being a rock star, and Allie, in her pea-green sleeping bag, dreams of flying to Mars. But when their classmates finally notice their differences, the twins also relish the parts they have in common.

Multiples and singletons alike will appreciate Anny’s and Allie’s nuanced identities. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64279-096-2

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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