DID MY MOTHER DO THAT?

When Holly’s Mommy goes out, Daddy tells her “a story about when [she was] a new baby.” The story becomes a gentle father-daughter conversation, in which Holly poses a series of what-ifs: “What if I were a baby kangaroo?” Her father answers each hypothetical with scientifically sound information; if Holly had been a baby shark, for instance, her mother might have eaten her—but “[y]our mother would never do that.” Lovelock’s full-bleed watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations deftly superimpose the habitat of whatever animal is under discussion over Holly and Daddy cuddling in her bedroom, cleverly allowing for visual comparisons. Kangaroos jump over the pair; seahorses swim by them. The images of parent-child affection are unforced and genuinely sweet—a breath of fresh air in this saccharine season. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4685-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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