Friendship and the difficulty of clear communication are the basis for the conflict between classic duos like Frog and Toad,...

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SNAIL AND WORM

THREE STORIES ABOUT TWO FRIENDS

From the Snail and Worm series

Three stories told in mostly one-syllable sight words for beginning readers introduce yet another odd-couple pair of animal friends.

Each chapter uses just 40 to 50 words of conversation between two invertebrate friends who share the roles of dimwitted innocent and slightly bemused foil. First, Snail talks to a rock named Bob, prompting Worm to introduce a stick named Ann. In the second tale, Worm cheers Snail's triumphal conquest of a flower that bends almost to the ground under its weight. In the third story, Worm's attempts at description are tripped up by Snail's overactive imagination. Snail imagines a terrifying spider as Worm describes a lost dog without ever using the word “dog.” Unfortunately the quirky, animation-inspired illustrations do not match either Worm's description or Snail's imaginings, leaving readers clueless and just as confused as Snail when Worm's pet appears. The final twist, that Snail's pet is a “dog” named Rex that is clearly a spider, will puzzle rather than amuse young readers. The underlying problem with all these tales is that the humor is exceedingly understated and dependent on a sophisticated sense of irony; children struggling to decode the text will get little help from the illustrations.

Friendship and the difficulty of clear communication are the basis for the conflict between classic duos like Frog and Toad, George and Martha, and Elephant and Piggie. None of these need to fear being replaced by Snail and Worm. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-49412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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