Text and art play well together here—just as well as Girl and Gorilla do.

Resourceful Girl and exuberant Gorilla navigate their way through a venturesome day.

Gorilla would like to play on the moon, but Girl suggests the park. They set off on her red two-wheeler, Gorilla’s bum wedged outlandishly in its basket. Quickly off-balance (go figure), they crash into a trash can, scuttling the bike ride. Bereft, Gorilla asks, “How can we get to the park? How can we play?” Girl begins, “We can—” only to be interrupted by helpful Gorilla, who’s always ready with an imaginative (if impractical) idea. “We can hopscotch to the park!” So it goes, as they (following Girl’s excellent suggestion) “walk and think and think and walk.” Like the extra-large toddler that he is, Gorilla’s wild suggestions are prompted by what he sees and imagines as they go. Spying a kite snagged in a tree, he says, “ ‘We can be kites and fly to the park!’ / ‘We don’t have any string,’ says Girl. / ‘We could use my tail!’ says Gorilla. / ‘You don’t have a tail,’ says Girl.” Walton’s dialogue-rich treatment, with its repetitive structure and simple words, promises double duty as both practice for emergent readers and giggle-inducing read-aloud. Berger’s digital compositions render a retro-hip cityscape; Girl’s bemusement and Gorilla’s roller-coaster emotions come across as both cartoonish and sweetly expressive.

Text and art play well together here—just as well as Girl and Gorilla do. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227891-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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