A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character.


A vaguely horse-shaped drawing goes on a vague, drawn-out journey.

Randy is a blobby, beige quadruped with wide, staring eyes and a cheerful crayon grin. Centered on a blank white page, he proclaims immediately upon his creation that he is beautiful and loved by all and that his given name must be “reserved only for the most special of creatures.” A disembodied speech-bubble conversation between the young artist and their mother extolls Randy’s skills and preferred activities, and Randy replies with varying degrees of narcissism and sarcasm, unheard by the child in the book but potentially enjoyed by a child reading it. A lunch break results in the white void Randy occupies being interrupted with photographed drops of what appear to be peanut butter and strawberry jam, leading into an “adventure” through construction-paper obstacles, popsicle-stick forests, and a run-in with the book’s gutter. The journey ends anticlimactically at a pool of water, wherein Randy discovers his reflection, which reveals him to be without long, elegant legs, a gorgeous mane, or glossy coat. After the brief existential crisis this triggers, the child’s proclamation that “I love Randy, my beautiful horse,” soothes Randy into acceptance of his appearance. Endpapers feature an “in-depth and comprehensive guide” for how to draw a horse, featuring a Victorian illustration as the final step (scribbled out on the rear endpapers).

A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18590-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...


In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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