Despite the novelty of a character of color using technology, this book is one to skip.

T-BONE THE DRONE

A little black boy and his drone get into quite a conundrum trying to retrieve a ball from a neighbor’s backyard.

It is love at first sight when Lucas first lays eyes on T-Bone the drone. Lucas does everything with his drone, but actually maneuvering the device proves challenging. In his determination to help T-Bone fly, Lucas prefers companionship with his electronic pal to playing whiffle ball with his friends. When a friend hits the whiffle ball and it bounces off of T-Bone over the fence into a neighbor’s yard, Lucas sees an opportunity to get the ball and win back his friends. Lucas decides to trespass into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve the ball, but there’s an unfriendly dog on the other side of the fence, and he gives up. Lucas decides to use his drone to help get the ball back, so his friends help build a contraption that will allow T-Bone to fly over the fence and lift the ball from the dog’s jaws. Cheerful illustrations glow with yellows and cool blues that evoke lightness and fun, but they are betrayed by darker themes of trespassing, severed human interaction, and electronic obsession. The friendly twist at the end does not mitigate the danger inherent in Lucas’ decision to trespass, one that in the real world could have dire consequences for a black boy like Lucas.

Despite the novelty of a character of color using technology, this book is one to skip. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-51038-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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