WHEN ELEPHANT GOES TO A PARTY

Party-going manners are taught through the agency of an elephant invited along for the fun. "When you take Elephant to a party, it helps to be prepared. First ask if you may bring a guest." So starts this do's and don'ts of proper birthday-party etiquette. Each page provides a little tidbit of advice: dress properly for the occasion; bring a gift "the birthday person might like"; don't be shy but don't be brash; if the chair you are sitting on happens to implode—as will happen to elephants now and then—don't be embarrassed but do help clean up; don't snoop; don't gorge; do say thanks. All solid counsel, told in mock seriousness, even if it does come at the reader mercilessly: should this, mustn't that, may this, cannot that. Seaver, in his first picture book, lightens the proceedings appreciably with his pen-and-pencil illustrations, which feature doll-like cartoon kids along with the cockamamie elephant, all bug-eyed, with a wrinkled trunk and a pink bow in her hair. For any kid who has felt as clumsy as an ox at a party, this elephant will be sweet sympathy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-87358-751-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rising Moon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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UNICORN WINGS

The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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