HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ

From the Rocket series

Rocket is as cute as can be, and he’s all dog. He plays with leaves and sticks, sniffs everything around him, listens to the birds and takes long naps. Then an enthusiastic yellow bird appoints herself his teacher, coaxing him with alphabet banners and singing him captivating stories that leave him wanting more. Through the summer and autumn, he learns his letters and some useful words. During the winter, Rocket is on his own, practicing his letters, sounding out and spelling words. When his teacher returns in the spring, they read happily ever after. Hills’s gentle, sweet tale is a paean to the joy of reading and the teachers that inspire it. He emphasizes Rocket’s steady progress and patience with admiration and gentle humor. His soft oil-and–colored-pencil illustrations create a sweetly warm and fuzzy atmosphere. Teachers and librarians will read this book to youngsters just beginning their first encounters with “the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet,” and those new readers will identify with Rocket’s accomplishment. Lovely. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-85899-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting.

YOU MAKE ME HAPPY

Fox and Porcupine celebrate the many ways they enjoy each other.

“You make me happy, / like birds taking flight, / like a waterfall twinkling, / like morning’s first light. // The things that you do, and the things that you say, / fill me with sunshine and brighten my day.” Throughout the seasons, readers are treated to a look at all the lovely times the duo have. Even when the text hints that one is feeling down and the other is cheering them on, the acrylic-paint–and–colored-pencil artwork shows both feeling glad, demanding that readers guess which might have been sad. That’s not the only thing readers will have to guess either. It’s unclear whether this relationship is friendly, romantic, or familial; at times the text and illustrations make it seem as though it could be any of these. And the first-person narrator is also never identified. The idea is certainly sweet, the roly-poly pair are delightfully expressive and adorable, and the sentiments expressed are those caregivers appreciate and celebrate in their children. Still, the wording may cause adults to cringe, especially those trained in psychology and like subjects that emphasize that confidence and well-being do not rest on externalities: “You make me happy and hopeful and strong.”

Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-849-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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

HEY, DUCK!

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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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