The flaps will probably not survive heavy use, but children curious about what might go inside bags and luggage will get an...

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OPEN THE SUITCASE

Opening suitcase-shaped flaps reveal what a magician, a doctor, a car mechanic, and others might carry to help them.

In the big, simple illustrations, anthropomorphic plushy animals with the proportions of toddlers pose in rows opposite suggestively shaped or decorated suitcases. The captions invite guessing who owns each bag, then lifting the (not-particularly-sturdy) glued-on flap to see what’s inside and taking another guess; turning the page shows the items in use. On verso stand Horse in a star-spangled robe, Piggy in a sailor’s top, and Dog in white scrubs; opposite, the white suitcase has a red cross on it. Turn the page: “Dog is a doctor. She takes care of Piggy and Horse at the hospital.” (Their suitcases reveal Horse to be a magician, Rabbit to be a mechanic, Cat to be a teacher, and Cow to be a musician; Piggy is a child.) Forced to wear a cast in the hospital scene and also being the recipient of an ugly drawing in the “teacher’s” classroom, Horse gets a rather raw deal here (“Why is Horse sad today?”), but the otherwise widespread smiles and generous measures of raw cuteness keep the overall tone light. The final suitcase contains a spare set of clothes, toothpaste, and a toy bear and belongs to Piggy, who is off to “sleep over” at Grandma and Grandpa’s. The final line, “What would you put in your suitcase?” invites lively discussion—as does, perhaps, the treatment of Horse’ experiences.

The flaps will probably not survive heavy use, but children curious about what might go inside bags and luggage will get an eyeful. (Picture book/novelty. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60537-401-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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