One wonders how much longer the forest animals will respond sympathetically to Little Owl’s howls.

READ REVIEW

OWL HOWL AND THE BLU-BLU

In her third outing (Owl Howl, 2011, etc.), Little Owl once again howls, this time in a toddler-esque fit over an escaped Blu-Blu.

Readers will understand that the Blu-Blu is a red helium-filled balloon, but the forest denizens who come to help Little Owl solve her problem must guess what it might be. Little Owl is increasingly upset that they can’t understand her, though not so upset that she can’t make comparisons—her Blu-Blu is round, not rectangular like the deck of cards Mole pulls out. And it definitely doesn’t smell like the stag beetle’s offering of a ball of dung—it flies. Young readers and their parents will empathize with Little Owl when she cries, “when I want something, I really, really want it!” Luckily, crow puts the clues together and saves the day, though not the Blu-Blu: children are not likely to see the ending coming. Goossens’ palette is dominated by a green so vivid it’s almost electric, and his forest friends are cute and cuddly. But while the almost glowing colors on the cover may attract readers, the story will not get them to stay; this lacks the specialness of the first Little Owl title, this time simply playing up the worst of toddler behavior.

One wonders how much longer the forest animals will respond sympathetically to Little Owl’s howls. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4246-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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