Though little ones will understand the desire to be in front, Elphie’s means are questionable.

I WANT TO GO FIRST!

On their way to the nature reserve’s watering hole, Elphie, the littlest elephant, wants to move to the front of the line and so enlists readers to help.

Byrne’s interactive approach finds his main character addressing readers in an effort to disrupt the other elephants’ places in line. “Hey, readers! I have an idea. On the count of three, shout out ELEANOR! / Ready? 1…2…3…” Eleanor, hearing her name, steps aside to investigate, and Elphie moves up in line. “Thank you, readers. I’m not last anymore!” As the group continues their trek, Elphie asks readers to hiss like a snake so one frightened friend jumps aside and “to please give the book a good shake,” causing another to be too nervous to cross a wobbly bridge. But when readers are asked to squeak, growl, or roar, Elgar, the biggest, is not fooled. Black-outlined cartoon figures with round eyes and gray bodies in bright swim attire enact the sequence of events told in large, black text and dialogue bubbles. Elphie’s polite request for readers’ assistance works to scare off a large, selfish elephant who is dominating the waterhole, earning a place in front on the way home. Although the overall gimmick is amusing, readers may feel this reward is at odds with Elphie’s fundamentally sneaky behavior.

Though little ones will understand the desire to be in front, Elphie’s means are questionable. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12771-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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