HOUND AND HARE

With In the Town All Year Round (2008), German author/illustrator Berner presented a Richard Scarry–like vision of town life, though populated by people rather than animals. In this translated beginning reader, she sets her story in a specific town, Great Bone (a map of which whimsically decorates the endpapers) and eschews a human populace in favor of anthropomorphic pigs, hounds, hares and other creatures. The illustrations are done in colored pencil and ink, each creature and picture frame defined by soft blue lines. Hounds and hares emerge as regular Hatfields and McCoys and overtly harass each other with wickedly humorous, singsong taunts. Although classmates Harley Hare and Hugo Hound share interests, they’ve absorbed their families’ prejudices and shun each other. Clever wordplay distinguishes dialogue rife with jabs at the respective detested groups—for example, frustrated because his parents won’t let him participate in the Big Race since they fear the Hounds will attend, Harley Hare thinks, “This place is going to the dogs…I’m…stuck here like a pooch in a pup tent.” Ultimately, he and Hugo Hound rebel, run the race and save fellow runner Pippa Pig when a storm descends, threatening the village. The happily-ever-after ending delivers a satisfying resolution to a story about tolerance that successfully uses humor and engaging artwork to avoid didacticism—a winner. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88899-987-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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