Food for thought, though the portions are larger and tastier elsewhere.

A meditation on the perils of possessiveness.

In what is not so much a story as an open-ended discussion starter, a solitary squirrel stakes a claim—“It’s MY tree and these are MY pinecones”—and then whirls off on a round of imaginary what-ifs. Having first contemplated the prospect of being challenged for ownership and then the notion that there just might be enough shade and pine cones to share (“But we all know where that kind of thinking leads”), the squirrel proceeds to envision ways to reinforce its property rights…maybe by building a wall (nothing topical to see here, oh no). In the illustrations, the bucolic setting is transformed into a mental landscape dominated by a towering wall that stretches off into the distance to leave squirrel and tree alone in stark isolation. Thinking that there might be more trees or bigger pine cones to claim on the other side, the squirrel scampers to the top of the wall—and in a wordless final scene is left staring at a crowded woodland aswarm with other squirrels. Readers may be left feeling cast adrift, particularly as the plotline comes off as, at best, thin next to flavorsome explorations of the theme like Jeff Mack’s Mine! (2017), Alex Willmore’s It’s My Sausage (2020), or Tallec’s own (as illustrator) How Selfish! written by Clare Helen Welsh (2020). (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42% of actual size.)

Food for thought, though the portions are larger and tastier elsewhere. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0547-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020


From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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