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A pet duck throws previously neighborly neighbors into discord, provoking all manner of wild imaginings by the children involved. Vicki Jones, her brother Ben, and their parents live on the edge of an English town. Everything is hunky-dory when Mrs. Spikes moves in next door—they enjoy chatting over the hedge, and Mrs. Spikes invites the children over for a glass of her secret red cordial—but when Mrs. Spikes brings home a duck for her garden pond, things delaminate. The duck won’t stop quacking; Mrs. Spikes pooh-poohs Mr. Jones’s suggestion that the duck is noisy; Mr. Jones finally blows a fuse; the neighbors stop talking to one another; and the children start to see dark doings at Mrs. Spikes’s house. They decide she is a witch who reads from a spell book (“What about that horrible syrup she made us drink,” asks Vicki about the heretofore tasty cordial) and keeps bats. When in an act of revenge, Mr. Jones gets his own duck to out-quack Mrs. Spikes’s, all goes strangely quiet. The tranquillity prompts neighbor to start talking to neighbor again, so much so that they even join yards to give the ducks access to each other. Some problems get solved in spite of themselves, the author seems to be suggesting, for there are no tactics to resolving neighborly spats being tendered here. But his expressive, comical paintings and the gentleness of the narrative put spats between neighbors in context. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2002

ISBN: 1-84270-015-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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