Darling illustrations and a gentle storyline combine for a lovely tale about the bonds of friendship.

When Penguin discovers a lost elephant, he vows to help her get home.

Marking the 10th anniversary of Yoon’s Penguin and Pinecone (2012), this tale sees the popular character return for another story of friendship. After freeing Penelope the elephant from the mud, Penguin tries to help her find her herd. They eventually swim their way across a body of water, following tracks on the other side back to Penelope’s family. The message—about the importance of trust in friendship and the value of staying connected despite distance—rings true. Adults sharing the story with children will feel a pang at Penguin’s words to Penelope, “I’ll never forget you either, because you’re unforgettable.” Penguin’s scarf, ever the symbol of the gift of friendship, becomes Penelope’s, tying the two together. Yoon’s signature illustrative style is on display; with thick black outlines reminiscent of block-printed art, each page feels simultaneously simple and detailed. The shift of perspective to a bird’s-eye view of Penguin and Penelope and depictions of interlocking elephant trunks “hugging” add richness to the storytelling. In the same vein as the other Penguin tales, this one is sweet and earnest and sure to resonate with fans and newcomers.

Darling illustrations and a gentle storyline combine for a lovely tale about the bonds of friendship. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68119-344-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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