A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)

MARS' FIRST FRIENDS

COME ON OVER, ROVERS!

Two unexpected pets, Spirit and Opportunity, perk up the bored, lonely fourth planet.

In the spirit of their Moon’s First Friends: How the Moon Met the Astronauts From Apollo 11 (2019), Hill and Paganelli send a lonely Mars to his father, the Sun, for a pet. Denied (Pluto is the whole family’s pet), the planet goes from one anthropomorphic solar sibling to another on a seemingly fruitless quest for companionship. This culminates in the violent and exciting arrival of two speedy “little spacecrafts” sent from Earth as a family gift. Fondly watching the puppylike rovers trundle about his orange surface collecting rocks, playing in a sandstorm, and snuggling together for the night, Mars both promises to make them a good home and looks forward to the arrival of future “pets.” Smiling faces on all the planets, moons, and rovers in view—which are otherwise rendered with reasonable accuracy—give the outing a cozy tone overall. Better yet, though the rovers’ missions get barely a nod in the main narrative, a substantial epilogue fills in the blanks with basic facts about the solar system in general and Mars in particular, plus profiles of NASA and the entire company of Mars rovers from 1997’s Sojourner to 2012’s still-active Curiosity (with a note about an unnamed, upcoming “new pet”).

A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0518-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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