BUSY BETTY & THE CIRCUS SURPRISE

A sure bet for a kid-tested, puppy-approved storytime.

Actor and author Witherspoon’s Busy Betty is back for another rollicking adventure.

Betty, a light-skinned child with enormous purple glasses and bouncy blond pigtails, always has “a MILLION questions and a BILLION ideas.” Betty’s latest idea is a big birthday surprise for Mom. To that end, Betty has enlisted best friends Mae (tan-skinned with dark hair) and Jeffrey (dark-skinned with soft locs) to help. First they list the things Betty’s mom likes. Then, exclaiming “Sweet cinnamon biscuits!” Betty lands on the idea of building a “humongous, tremendous, stupendous” backyard circus, starring the friends as clowns. The trio need costumes, makeup, a trapeze, a big tent, and most of all…a lion to tame—in the form of Betty’s dog, Frank, who is none too keen. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mom’s birthday isn’t until next month, but Betty knows just how to fix the situation. Witherspoon’s jaunty, vivid text and Yan’s pastel palette and exaggerated design effectively convey Betty’s energy and spontaneity, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with each dramatic page turn. The author and illustrator have created another familiar and easily resolved tale, likely setting the stage for an ongoing series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sure bet for a kid-tested, puppy-approved storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780593525128

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

BEAR FINDS EGGS

From the Bear Books series

Cheery fun that will leave series fans “egg”-static.

In his latest outing, Bear and his pals go in search of eggs.

Bear “lumbers with his friends through the Strawberry Vale.” Raven finds a nest; climbing up, “The bear finds eggs!”: a refrain that appears throughout. Instead of eating the robin’s eggs, however, Bear leaves a gift of dried berries in the nest for the “soon-to-be-chicks.” Next, the friends find 10 mallard eggs (as bright blue as the robin’s), and Bear leaves sunflower seeds. Then the wail of Mama Meadowlark, whose bright yellow undercarriage strikes a warm golden note, leads them to promise to find her lost eggs. With his friends’ assistance, Bear finds one, and they decide to paint them “so they aren’t lost again.” Another is discovered, painted, and placed in Hare’s basket. After hours of persistent searching, Bear suddenly spots the remaining two eggs “in a small patch of clover.” Before they can return these eggs, the chicks hatch and rejoin their mother. Back at his lair, Bear, with his troupe, is visited by all 17 chicks and the robin, mallard, and meadowlark moms: “And the bear finds friends!” Though this sweet spring tale centers on finding and painting eggs, it makes no overt references to Easter. The soft green and blue acrylics, predictable rhymes, and rolling rhythm make this series installment another low-key natural read-aloud.

Cheery fun that will leave series fans “egg”-static. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781665936552

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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