Keep your bitcoins—you never know when somebody might need a button.

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SWAP!

A broken-down captain and his young, peg-legged mate rediscover an ages-old system to rebuild their battered ship without spending a penny.

It’s called barter or swap, that mode of trade that requires not coinage but need. Light starts at the very beginning: the poor captain has a button, which doesn’t look very promising until a lady agrees to swap two teacups for the button, which the boy then turns around and swaps for three coils of rope. For two of the coils he gets six oars, and for two of the oars he gets six flags. Flags? Well, you never know where things may lead. Flags beget anchors that beget sails that beget ships’ wheels and birds and jaunty hats and a hand-carved figurehead. Next thing you know, the old wreck is not only seaworthy, but has a bit of dash. Light’s artwork is lightly amusing throughout, with a throng of crabbed ink lines busily filling the mostly white backgrounds, making the incidents of color—blue here, purple and orange there—the more sparkling. Complementing the smart artwork is a smart story: you don’t have to have a pocket full of gold to get by; wits often work just as well. Though the boy’s peg leg immediately conjures hoary old pirate tropes, these are honest, hard-working tars, and it’s a positive delight to see a disabled boy depicted as an equal participant in the economy.

Keep your bitcoins—you never know when somebody might need a button. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7990-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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