THREE

An uplifting story with amiable verve.

A three-legged dog goes on a journey of discovery.

Three the dog lives homeless in a city. But Three doesn’t consider his life wanting. The sun warms him; he feels clean when it rains on him; he is even thankful that he doesn’t have four legs, because the things with four legs he’s aware of (chairs) don’t move and get sat on by those with two legs (humans). This is another trait of Three’s: He pays great attention to the number of legs of all the creatures around him. He’s happy “six legs” (ants) have an underground home to go to and that an ”eight legs” (spider) is high out of reach of harm. One day, Three wanders far out of the city into the country, where he meets Fern, a little-girl two legs, who shares his independent spirit as well as her cookies and milk. Fern introduces Three to many other various-legged creatures in her garden—and to her single mother and little brother. The happy ending isn’t in doubt; what gives the story its propulsion is Three’s very doggy, glass-half-full attitude that a creature’s number of legs is simply an interesting feature (an attitude that may come more easily to a quadruped than a biped). The loose-sketch–style illustrations filled with relaxed washes of color visually underscore Three’s positive approach to life. Racially diverse humans are illustrated; Fern and her family present White.

An uplifting story with amiable verve. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4923-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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