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ALONE SOMETIMES

EVERYBODY NEEDS A HOLE IN THE GROUND

Earnest but perplexing musings on solitude.

A child goes in search of alone time.

Best friends Kit and Ren do everything together, from baking to playing the video game Whalio World. But when Ren doesn’t show up for their video game tournament, Kit seeks her out, only to find her in her backyard, sitting in a hole in the ground. “Sometimes everybody needs a hole in the ground,” Ren explains. “I want to be alone, and this hole is calm and quiet.” Kit keeps coming back periodically, updating Ren on the tournament, building a tent over the hole when it starts to rain, and offering snacks and company. After the competition goes badly, Kit realizes she needs to retreat from the world, too, and it’s her turn to sit in the hole. Amann pairs gently paced prose with cheery but unpolished artwork that depicts a summery, suburban setting. Though the message that sometimes we all need some quiet solitude is an important one, this tale falls a bit flat. Ren’s explanation for why she needs to be alone feels lacking: Why do we all need a hole in the ground? Ren also doesn’t actually spend much time on her own; Kit comes back for frequent visits. Kit’s request to use the hole after her setback may make things a bit clearer—withdrawing from the world can help when we’re upset—but overall, the story likely won’t resonate. Both characters present white.

Earnest but perplexing musings on solitude. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781250878403

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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CLAYMATES

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

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 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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