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An easily digestible fable with a simple moral and added classroom value as a natural science add-on.

Shaw puts an ecological spin on an Ojibwa fable about pride and its consequences.

Instead of joining obnoxious Beaver in admiring his big, fuzzy tail, Bird, Deer and Fish go off about their businesses—and so are not around when a tree falls on it. Dragging the tail free leaves it flat and furless. Repenting both pride and bad behavior, Beaver works busily on building a dam as winter comes, and when he apologizes to his animal friends in spring, they commend him for leaving twigs for Bird’s nest, clearing woodland spaces for Deer’s forage to grow, and creating a warm pond for Fish. Along with adding this last part to traditional versions—and explaining in an afterword that beavers, as a “keystone species,” actually perform these functions in woodland ecosystems—the author retells the tale in contemporary language. “I’m just saying,” Beaver informs Fish, “this tail of mine is absolutely the most magnificent tail a creature could have.” Mirroring the changing seasons with a rich color scheme, van Frankenhuyzen poses large, realistically rendered animal figures in idyllic outdoor settings. He communicates Beaver’s emotional state largely through body language, though a few subtle facial expressions occasionally sneak in. There is no sourcing aside from the statement that the story is from the Ojibwa tradition.

An easily digestible fable with a simple moral and added classroom value as a natural science add-on. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58536-898-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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