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CHEE-KEE

A PANDA IN BEARLAND

A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different.

Like many immigrants, Chee-Kee Loo the panda feels out of place when he first moves to Bearland with his family.

Drawing from her parents’ own experiences moving from South Korea to the United States, Rim recounts an abridged version of the often told immigration story. Even though the bears in Bearland are welcoming and friendly, little Chee-Kee can’t “help noticing that he was just so…different” and feels he “won’t ever fit in.” In this new place, bears use forks, but Chee-Kee uses chopsticks or eats with his hands; sunglasses are the norm, but he wears a conical sun hat; kites are diamond-shaped, but his is rectangular. Mr. and Mrs. Loo, on the other hand, make the best of the situation. When a little bear cub tells them, “You look funny!” Mrs. Loo replies, “Oh, thank you. You look funny too! How lovely.” One day, Chee-Kee is sitting in his favorite tree when some local bears get themselves into a fix. Chee-Kee springs into action. He realizes that because he’s different, he’s able to save the day. Channeling Japanese sumi-e ink painting and Chinese brush painting in combination with other mixed media, Rim reproduces the energetic, quirky style of her Birdie books. She creates a whimsical world where bears in every shape, color, and size live happily together.

A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-40744-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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HEY, DUCK!

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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