A high-stepping tribute to friendships, musical and otherwise.



A scat-singing duckling sets out in search of soul mates in this Dutch/Belgian import.

Waddling and warbling to her own rhythms, little yellow Ella seems a silly duck to her dignified parents (one white, the other a mallard) and sibs Wolfgang, Ludwig, Hildegard, Johan-Sebastian, Clara-Belle, and Amadeus. Is there anyone who will sing and swing with her? Not the dove (“I only sing alone”) nor the croaking frog choir, alas—but what’s this? Out of the reeds comes a “Doo daa dee” to echo her own! It’s a young (what else?) trumpeter swan who introduces himself as Dizzy: “Everybody teases me because I like to blast with my bill.” “I like your blast!” responds Ella, and in no time the tuneful twosome has the whole wild woodland crew, ducks and all, kicking up its heels with a “Quack quack doobee daa!” Berenschot sticks to brush work and subdued colors, which give her generally low-angled pondside scenes a mildly hazy, antique look reminiscent of mid-20th-century illustration. Though on a few pages the narrative blocks look too small, on others manipulation of type size and weight adds to the tale’s jazzy bounce. And even though the nods to musical greats of the past may go over the heads of younger audiences, the notion that sweet harmonies have the power to move both feet and spirits is timeless.

A high-stepping tribute to friendships, musical and otherwise. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60537-498-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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


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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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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