This German import is a simple play on a provocative notion, with art in pleasingly vivid hues.

READ REVIEW

WHAT COULD THAT BE?

In a parable both timely and ageless, a mysterious item on the forest floor excites ominous imaginings in all who come upon it.

Iranian author/illustrator Dalvand depicts trees and figures in shimmering, almost luminescent colors to make the item, a small black lump, look all the more enigmatic. A passing leopard thinks one of her spots may have fallen off, which is scary enough—but other animals’ thoughts tend to the catastrophic. To a crow it’s a piece of star that presages the sky’s imminent collapse; a fox thinks it’s a lost jewel that a murderous army is soon coming to fetch; and an owl sees it as the egg of a fire-breathing dragon. Even though a cat thinks the lump is just a bit of her “poo” and hastily buries it, the whole forest is left in a tizzy. Countering this natural tendency to think the worst, the author wonders if it’s maybe a seed, or a piece of chocolate…or perhaps something lovely and magical that readers might be able to identify? Like Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing (2005) or, going further back, Tom Paxton and Elizabeth Sayles’ The Marvelous Toy (1996), this may well stir some to ponder whether it’s better to embrace, or at least to welcome, the unknown rather than to fear it.

This German import is a simple play on a provocative notion, with art in pleasingly vivid hues. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-53019-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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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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