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A sensitive character study with feelings that run deep.

A shy child surrenders her special sitting place when an unhappy stranger comes along.

Resembling the sweet, flop-eared white bunny of Garland’s Share (2014) more in looks than character, Nook much prefers to sit silently apart pressed safely against a wall, beneath a table, or, best of all, nestled in a cozy hollow in an old elm tree outdoors; she’ll join the play of her more outgoing animal friends in spirit rather than body. Mostly they give her the space she needs, inviting her to join them just often enough to let her know she’s included. Disaster looms one day, though, when she finds a big, angry badger sitting in her special place: “Mine!” it snaps. “Go away!” With no wall or corner to retreat to, Nook feels her panic rising—and suddenly her friends are all gathered behind her. “That’s Nook’s place.” “Yes, Nook needs to sit there.” When the interloper won’t be moved, Nook’s friends lead her away to be with them in the middle of the playground…and that turns out to be OK, because now that she understands that they will always have her back she no longer needs the refuge. Garland uses vigorous strokes of brush and colored pencil to give her figures a plushy surface, and though she depicts them as animals, so human are their understated expressions and gestures (and clothes) that young readers may not notice. Both Nook’s gentle nature and the kindness and loyalty of her friends positively shine.

A sensitive character study with feelings that run deep. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5848-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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