Unfortunately, the realistically petty temper tantrum and unhealthy coping mechanism overshadow the slight humor and seem...

READ REVIEW

OLIVE AND THE BAD MOOD

Olive the (anthropomorphic) orange cat is back—and she’s still oblivious to the impact of her actions (Olive and the Big Secret, 2012).

The drama starts immediately as Olive trips on an untied shoelace, skids along under the copyright data and lands in an irritated heap on the title page. She then takes out her temper by making rude remarks to everyone she meets. From bunny best friend Molly, who innocently inquires whether Olive would like to play, to Lola the giraffe, who just wants to say hi, Olive belittles, insults and ignores her friends. Not surprisingly, each of them winds up in a bad mood too. Freeman keeps the text simple and conversational though not always convincingly childlike. Her mixed-media illustrations are crisp, and her animal characters, with round bodies, large heads, and comically small arms and legs, caper across white space that is mostly uncluttered by background details. Olive’s pronounced pout expresses her negative feelings, while her friends’ transitions from cheery to cranky are shown in serial portraits that also convey motion and activity. After annoying everyone, Olive soothes herself with sweets, shares them freely—and then sinks back into the doldrums when the candy runs out.

Unfortunately, the realistically petty temper tantrum and unhealthy coping mechanism overshadow the slight humor and seem likely to leave young listeners and their parents even less enchanted with Olive than her friends are. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6657-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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