Next book


Silly, of course, and pretty sweet.

Mr. Panda is available for hugs, but no one seems to want one.

Mr. Panda sports a “Free Hugs” T-shirt (possibly a gift from his lemur friend) as he makes himself available for hugs to his many friends. “I need a hug,” says the skunk, approaching while apparently wafting a stinky smell. “OK, Skunk. Let’s have a hug,” says Mr. Panda. But it turns out that Skunk was speaking to the crocodile. Croc (wearing a clothespin on its nose) and Skunk exchange hugs and “I love you”s as Mr. Panda looks on in some confusion. The rebuff is repeated with Elephant and Mouse, some sheep and Ostrich, and Sloth (who can hug itself). Lemur and Penguin are Mr. Panda’s constant companions as he rides a bike, drives a minibus, and flies a small plane, all without success in delivering hugs. The animals, most gray or black and white, stand out against a solid red background, the doughnut-decorated heart-shaped balloon Mr. Panda totes the only pops of other colors. When he gives up with an “I guess nobody wants my hugs,” the lemur and penguin offer Mr. Panda a hug, which he accepts, followed by the others in a big group hug: “We love you, Mr. Panda.” Mr. Panda’s reserve, large size, and lumpish dignity make his mission seem endearing, and his willingness to give up is a somewhat positive one for nonhuggers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.2-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 12.4% of actual size). 

Silly, of course, and pretty sweet. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-66808-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Next book


Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Next book


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Close Quickview