A tale about doing nice things for others that goes down easily.

READ REVIEW

BRUNHILDA'S BACKWARDS DAY

What goes around comes around for one witch who loves to make trouble—i.e., make people miserable.

Brunhilda, a pale-skinned, warty witch, has a routine: get out of bed on the wrong side, put on her ugliest dress, eat spider mush, and brush her three snaggled teeth with candy. Then it’s off to use her favorite spell to rain on picnics, cause pimples to appear, or wilt a bouquet of flowers. That is, until the cat decides to make trouble of its own in revenge for some of the nasty tricks and treatment it’s been the brunt of. The next morning goes decidedly differently for Brunhilda, and her favorite spell has the exact opposite effect as the one she was going for: instead of falling, a white boy’s ice cream cone quadruples, and a racially diverse trio of children fly on their bikes rather than crash. Finally succeeding in making a playground disappear, she realizes it’s not as satisfying as the high-five and cheering she got for doing nice things, albeit unintentionally. She and the cat cook up some fun that night, and though things appear to be back to normal for Brunhilda, some changes are permanent. Tenney’s vignette, single-page, and double-page illustrations play up the emotions of the characters. Especially masterful is the spread of the cat in its mad-scientist, green-glowing glory.

A tale about doing nice things for others that goes down easily. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63450-691-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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