It’s a subtle lesson in politeness, perhaps overshadowed by the lingering mystery at the end.

READ REVIEW

HOW RUDE!

Mole’s rudeness abates when his polite friends demonstrate the art of camaraderie and apologies.

Seeing that Mole is carrying a big, heavy box with a big keyhole in it, Pig offers his friend a lift. Pig asks, “So, what’s in the box?” and Mole rudely retorts, “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” Angrily, Pig slams on the brakes, causing Mole to catapult out of the convertible. Pig’s friends, Hippo, Girl, and Mouse, agree Mole is very rude—and everyone is curious to find out what the box contains while Mole is gone. Attempts at rocking it, rolling it, and trying to bash it open with a hammer are futile. Mole (uninjured) catches up, opens the box, locks himself in, comes out, entices the group to enter, then sneakily locks them in. Mole laughs at his deceit, but the music, laughter, and singing noises coming from the box make him feel left out. “What are you doing in there?” “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” Wanting to join the fun, Mole unlocks the box. All rush out, knocking Mole down and apologizing immediately. A chastened Mole is also sorry, and friendship prevails—but readers never learn the contents of the box. Unstated details unfold in small sequential scenes against a mostly white canvas, the soft-edged cartoons enhanced with emphatic dialogue often set in a bold, capitalized font. Girl is paper-white with a black pageboy.

It’s a subtle lesson in politeness, perhaps overshadowed by the lingering mystery at the end. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-91095-935-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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