A rescue tale offers gorgeous paintings of animal characters and some awkward narration.

TORC THE CAT SAVES THE BUNNY

From the Torc the Cat Short Stories series , Vol. 1

A courageous cat saves a bunny from a sinister feline in this short stories series opener.

TORC, a long-furred, black-and-white house cat, dreams of a bigger world. But an adventure is happening right outside his door: Greedy Tom is threatening a baby bunny. TORC hurries to the rescue (an action shot of the two cats shows the otherwise realistic-looking hero in a flying kung fu pose). Using untagged dialogue, Nona (TORC the CAT Discovers North America Part 1, 2019) switches from TORC’s narration to Greedy Tom’s, detailing their ongoing rivalry and delivering a melodramatic, clichéd promise: “You foiled me again, but we will meet again!” Once Greedy Tom leaves, TORC provides the bunny with a name, Mr. Lucky, and introduces him to some local rabbits, who adopt him. Because the narration is presented in the first person, but the perspective switches multiple times without the text indicating the speaker, newly independent readers may be baffled by the structure. For lap readers, the fun tale, with grown-ups supplying distinctive voices, presents a clear hero and a dastardly villain, along with an adorable bunny to be saved. (The hero is now the star of two picture-book series: TORC Discoveries and TORC the CAT short stories.) Nona’s realistic, painterly illustrations capture TORC’s expressions and movements perfectly, and interactions with the cute bunny are sure to be appreciated by young animal lovers. An afterword tells the true story behind this yarn.

A rescue tale offers gorgeous paintings of animal characters and some awkward narration.

Pub Date: July 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73279-174-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Nona Design LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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