GRAB THAT RABBIT!

When a hungry rabbit gets stuck, he could fall victim to the person whose vegetables he’s eating.

His name is Hodge. He’s a white rabbit with one black “splodge” covering his left eye and ear. The usually happy Hodge is currently wedged in a hedge. And here comes the “happy gardener” Mrs. Sprat, in her large hat, preparing to pull up some carrots for dinner. When she sees no carrots but Hodge instead, she grabs hold of his bottom and gives a yank. But she pulls so hard she lands—“SPLAT!”—on her rear, crushing her hat. Hodge runs away, but a buzzard hovering high above swoops down and snatches him up. Hodge wriggles; the buzzard struggles and lets him go. Hodge lands with a big “Plop!” right on Mrs. Sprat’s flat hat. She grabs him and stomps back home, pondering a dinner of rabbit pie. But as she holds the “soft and fluffy” Hodge in her arms, Mrs. Sprat has second thoughts. Cue the page turn. “Back in her squashed hat,” Mrs. Sprat sits in a chair behind her house. “Hodge is lodged on Mrs. Sprat’s lap,” and they are both happy. Faber’s playful text is full of gentle wordplay, sounds repeating in clipped sentences that will be great fun to read aloud. Smith’s warm illustrations provide a bucolic setting, depicting Mrs. Sprat with pale skin and a Hodge who brims with personality.

Deftly delightful. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84365-378-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pavilion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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