A thin rendering of an uninspired story.

AW, NUTS!

What self-respecting squirrel wouldn’t take off in hot pursuit of the Platonic acorn?

As squirrels do, this one is squirreling away nuts for the coming winter. He’s already got a nice little hoard, but one escapes the jam-packed larder. It doesn’t escape Squirrel’s notice, though. This is no regular acorn: Perhaps it was the acorn of youth or the acorn of plenty. Anyway, Squirrel chases it across town via taxi, pogo stick, delivery van, dog, boat, horse, even a helium balloon, until the acorn comes to rest in a mountain of acorns. Squirrel plucks the artful, dodging acorn and brings it home—along with all the other acorns—for a special repast. Just as he is settled in his easy chair, well, another acorn catches his eye as it pops free of the fold….Chasing a dream should not be denied, but it looks like Squirrel is getting awfully hungry. Plus, it is hard to differentiate the everyday from the sublime here: A joke about a one-note creature is hard to raise above the, well, single note. The artwork feels more like it is on celluloid than canvas or paper, the washed-out colors also lacking depth or texture.

A thin rendering of an uninspired story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231729-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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