The life cycle of a frog becomes a joyful, energetic celebration of growing up.

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LEAPS AND BOUNCE

Changes are happening underwater—look closely and watch the fun as a clutch of eggs turns into leaping, bouncing frogs.

A cluster of eggs, “round and spotted, / polka-dotted,” waits beneath the water’s surface, and readers are invited to wonder what’s inside. The mystery doesn’t last long—in just a few page turns, wiggling, squiggling creatures emerge, exploring their underwater environs. Several gatefolds add to the fun, as the changes literally unfold before readers’ eyes. Tadpoles zip and zap, splish and splash across the page, smiling and leaping out of the water. But “changes come to all who grow,” and soon the young amphibians sprout legs. In almost no time, they become “leaping, peeping, hopping, bopping” frogs! As in their charming Rooting for You (2014), Hood’s energetic rhyming text is joyfully matched with Cordell’s humorous illustrations. The wordplay is delightful, full of internal rhymes and bouncing rhythms. Interestingly, Hood never names the stages of frog development but instead encourages readers to notice the changes at each step. Cordell’s smiling frogs, with their goggling eyes, are very similar to his loving, happy mama and baby frog in Lauren Thompson’s Leap Back Home to Me (2011). Cheerful tadpoles and frogs are full of movement, clearly loving life in the pond.

The life cycle of a frog becomes a joyful, energetic celebration of growing up. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5234-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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