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From the Absolutely Alfie series , Vol. 1

Alfie’s obsession with kittens and her innocent plotting will endear her to young readers.

Eight-year-old African-American Alfleta “Alfie” Jakes is completely bored.

With three weeks left of her summer vacation, she wants something to do. Older brother EllRay hangs out with his friends, and her parents are busy working. Nobody seems to have time for Alfie. Her mom decides she can hang out with white Hanni Sobel. This is a great idea except that Hanni is “a know-it-all who tried to be the boss of the other girls.” Surprisingly, Hanni makes a good playmate, especially since she has three cute kittens. Soon Alfie is obsessed with a little gray kitten she names Princess. Alfie really needs this kitten. She devises Operation Kittycat, a foolproof plan to get a kitten home. But her parents have a no-pet policy. Will Alfie be able to pull it off by the time summer ends? Warner’s charming protagonist, whom some may recognize from the chapter-book series about big brother EllRay, will captivate readers with her funny takes on her family and Hanni. Friendly and appealing illustrations by Malone pepper the chapters, adding a sweet dimension to the story. Sequel Absolutely Alfie and the First Week Friends publishes simultaneously.

Alfie’s obsession with kittens and her innocent plotting will endear her to young readers. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99986-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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