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HUG ME, PLEASE!

For kids who love hugs and aren’t afraid to share them.

Daddy Bear and his son spend the day seeking out and hugging forest denizens.

Their breakfast of honey having given them a “warm, sweet feeling inside,” the two set off to find Mr. Beaver to give him a squeeze. Though the recipient is at first frightened, he acquiesces to a hug and is pleased to find that “it felt strange but nice.”  Litte Bear wants to give out more hugs (troublingly, Daddy Bear states that “Hugging always makes you feel good”), so the two spend the rest of their day passing out hugs to at-first-reluctant forest animals (Dziubak’s bears show no teeth, but they are big and do have fearsome claws). And at the end of the day, Little Bear points out what observant readers will have seen all along: they’ve forgotten someone very important. Readers used to such fare as Who Invited You, by Candace Fleming and illustrated by George Booth (2001), and Oliver and His Alligator, by Paul Schmid (2013), will be waiting for the other shoe to drop, especially when Ms. Anaconda says it would be her pleasure to get a hug from the bears. But it never comes—this is simply a sweet tale about making others feel good by giving them hugs. The seemingly digital illustrations raise and lower tension with each page turn; though the animals’ faces are not consistently expressive, Dziubak packs plenty of humor in by playing with composition and relative size.

For kids who love hugs and aren’t afraid to share them. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68297-142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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HEY, DUCK!

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

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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