Inspired by an actual quilt and armloads of memoirs, this account of an 1859 journey along the Santa Fe Trail bubbles over with verbal and visual vim. “I’m sewing to California!” proclaims young Lily Rose, needle in hand, as she and her Grandma make records on cloth about the mountains, storms, flora and fauna, a new baby and other milestones of their “BO-dacious” wagon trip. The trail also brings encounters with friendly groups of Apache and Pima. With a look and exuberance reminiscent of Patricia Polacco’s art, Dressen-McQueen’s painted scenes feature fine fabric patterns and stitchery, along with stylized figures high-stepping, nestling cozily together and eventually gathering around in a festive bee beneath California oranges to assemble the pieces of Lily Rose’s quilt. The “elephant” of the title refers to a 19th-century catchphrase about having, as Lowell puts it, “the thrill, or shock, of a lifetime,” and is also used (in a far more somber sense) in Pat Hughes’s Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War (2007), illustrated by Ken Stark. This iteration of the popular “wagons-west” theme kicks the energy level up a notch above the usual. (afterword, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-38223-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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In epistolary dialogue with his mom, a lad yearning for an iguana tries various approaches, from logic and sweet talk to emotional blackmail. His mother puts up a valiant defense—“Dear Mom: Did you know that iguanas are really quiet and they’re cute too. I think they are much cuter than hamsters. Love, your adorable son, Alex.” “Dear Alex: Tarantulas are quiet too”—before ultimately capitulating. Catrow’s scribbly, lurid, purple-and-green illustrations bring the diverse visions of parent and child to hilarious life, as a lizard of decidedly indeterminate ancestry grows in stages to the size of a horse, all the while exhibiting a doglike affection toward its balloon-headed prospective keeper—who is last seen posed by a new terrarium, pumping a fist in victory. A familiar domestic interchange, played out with broad comedy—and mutual respect, too. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-23717-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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