The message appears to be the treats are best when shared, which makes Red Panda’s attempt at entrepreneurship all the odder.

RED PANDA'S CANDY APPLES

Who can resist candy apples? Not Red Panda.

The animals from Hedgehog’s Magic Tricks (2013) return for a new adventure, this time featuring Red Panda. He’s selling candy apples that he made himself. Rabbit is his first customer, but Red Panda is sad to give the apple to him as he realizes he’d rather eat it himself. Selling candy apples is not as much fun as eating them, it seems. Hedgehog is next, choosing Red Panda’s favorite. Mouse is next. With his coin jar filling up, Red Panda treats himself. “Lick, crackle, crunch.” Now only one candy apple is left for sale, but Duckling and Bushbaby each want one. Luckily, Red Panda has stashed another one for himself, so everybody gets an apple. In a real breach of the author-reader contract, this last apple appears only when Paul needs it. Although red pandas and bushbabies are likely to be new to most North American children, they likely won’t care, as details in the illustrations flavor the story. Reddish crumbs are stuck on whiskers, and animal friends are dressed in clothing, with the white mouse in a pink tutu and Red Panda in red plaid pants. Despite the sweet flair of the pencil-and-digital artwork, though, the story doesn’t have much bite to it.

The message appears to be the treats are best when shared, which makes Red Panda’s attempt at entrepreneurship all the odder. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6758-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their...

DIGGERSAURS

Less ambitious than Chris Gall’s widely known Dinotrux (2009) and sequels, this British import systematically relegates each dinosaur/construction-equipment hybrid to its most logical job.

The title figures are introduced as bigger than both diggers and dinosaurs, and rhyming text and two construction-helmeted kids show just what these creatures are capable of. Each diggersaur has a specific job to do and a distinct sound effect. The dozersaurus moves rocks with a “SCRAAAAPE!!!” while the rollersaurus flattens lumps with a cheery “TOOT TOOT!!” Each diggersaur is numbered, with 12 in all, allowing this to be a counting book on the sly. As the diggersaurs (not all of which dig) perform jobs that regular construction equipment can do, albeit on a larger scale, there is no particular reason why any of them should have dinosaurlike looks other than just ’cause. Peppy computer art tries valiantly to attract attention away from the singularly unoriginal text. “Diggersaurs dig with bites so BIG, / each SCOOP creates a crater. // They’re TOUGH and STRONG / with necks so long— / they’re super EXCAVATORS!” Far more interesting are the two human characters, a white girl and a black boy, that flit about the pictures offering commentary and action. Much of the fun of the book can be found in trying to spot them on every two-page spread.

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their dino/construction kicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4779-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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