MR. TIGER, BETSY, AND THE BLUE MOON

Should please Anglophiles fond of cozy, English cultural references and nonstop whimsy.

A fantasy series opener from the author of Carnegie Medal winner Maggot Moon (2013).

Betsy K. Glory lives on a small island with her ice-cream–making dad, who owns a cafe; her ocean-dwelling mermaid mum pays them weekly visits. When Betsy and Mr. Glory deliver his latest concoction to an ice-cream–fancying toad, the amphibian reveals that she is Princess Albee, self-exiled from her home on Gongalong Island after her giantess half sister, Princess Olaf, made a wish that turned her into a toad, a wish Albee is unable to overturn. While confirming Mum’s assertion that Gongalong Island’s berries, when made into ice cream, grant wishes, Albee says they must be picked during a blue moon. Sadly, no one knows how to turn the moon blue. Worse, Princess Olaf has fenced off most of their island for her own use, making it nearly impossible for the remaining resident Gongalongs (tiny humanoids) to escape. When Mr. Tiger and his oceangoing circus, which features Gongalong acrobats, arrive on Betsy’s island, he hatches a plan to free the Gongalongs and Princess Albee. With an elaborately silly plot and flimsy characterization, the story feels rudderless; it lacks thematic heft. A few moments sparkle, though, and the abundant, imaginative illustrations (executed in blue, to match the blue type) provide continuity and quirky charm. Human and human(oid) characters default to white.

Should please Anglophiles fond of cozy, English cultural references and nonstop whimsy. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09516-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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