This amusing story is delicately threaded with some subtle lessons about sharing, making friends, and including everyone.

A lonely dachshund named Mr. Pockles finds new friends when he shares his extensive collection of elaborately decorated hats with other animals from his town.

Mr. Pockles lives all alone in his house with a hat-shaped roof, surrounded by his collection of imaginative hats, each one named and adorned with thematic decorations for every occasion. He longs to attend the Hat Day celebration at the PandaPolitan Club, but only pandas are allowed at the exclusive destination. While stopping in a bakery for a treat to cheer himself up, Mr. Pockles meets Lady Coco Fitz-Tulip, a grande dame of the panda set on her way to the Hat Day event. She is wearing a Carmen Miranda–style hat covered with fruit, and in a hilarious sequence, her hat is eaten by baby bunnies. Mr. Pockles invites Lady Fitz-Tulip and the other animals from the cafe back to his house, where they all choose new hats. Lady Fitz-Tulip takes everyone to Hat Day as her special guests, as “friends of pandas are invited, too.” The drolly humorous story is told in a strong narrative voice, with melodramatic flair, clever dialogue, and distinctive personalities for both Mr. Pockles and Lady Fitz-Tulip. Vibrant mixed-media illustrations use a cool palette with jewel-toned accents and glowing lights in the city buildings that impart a fairy-tale aura to the setting.

This amusing story is delicately threaded with some subtle lessons about sharing, making friends, and including everyone. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55815-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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