A gentle alternative to Bernard Waber’s “You Look Ridiculous,” Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus (1966) and other...

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A LESSON FOR THE WOLF

In this Arctic tale, a wolf discontented with his own nature tries on other animals’ features, with dismal results.

Rather than run and play like other wolves, the subject of this apparently original story prefers to spy on caribou, wolverines, and snowy owls. He so envies them that he even collects shed antlers, wisps of long fur, and a dropped feather. So heartfelt is the song he sings of his yearning that with the “Land’s Strength” he is actually able to attach all of these to his body. But then he returns to his pack and discovers that he fits in even worse than before. In fact, his new patchwork features impede his ability to hunt and eat. Away he wanders, wasting away until the “mother of the wolves” comes to him. She coaxes him to return and to live as a wolf. With his pack’s love he is able to undo the changes, healing in both body and spirit. Echoing the narrative’s formal cadences, all of the creatures in Cook’s muted, windswept tundra scenes pose gracefully. The sinuous white wolf cuts a particularly noble figure and so looks all the stranger when decked out in his borrowed finery. But he is never seen as ridiculous, only misguided, and all ends well: “He was a wolf—and that in itself was admirable.”

A gentle alternative to Bernard Waber’s “You Look Ridiculous,” Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus (1966) and other self-acceptance tales. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-7722-7005-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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