The too-simple resolution and final act of revenge blunt the impact of the story’s message.

OLIVE AND THE EMBARRASSING GIFT

Joe’s gift of matching hats, one pink, one purple, both sporting a heart design, heart tassels and pompoms, and reading “Best Friends” across the front, is pretty embarrassing. But is it worth throwing away a friendship?

The teasing starts subtly—a “Ha!” here, a “Hee, hee” there. But then Matt outright tells her, “Olive, you look silly in that hat!” Olive’s attempts to avoid wearing Joe’s gift also start subtly: She’s not sure it’s hat weather; she doesn’t want to lose it. But Joe reassures her it’s an all-occasion hat that “won’t ever fall off.” She even tries hiding, but she’s found. With more footsteps approaching, she just can’t take it and tries lots of ways to hide/rid herself of the hat. But they’re Joe’s footsteps, and she can’t hide the fact that his well-intended gift has been stuffed in the garbage. Feeling terrible, she wears a sandwich board advertising their friendship, trash-stained hat perched atop her head. Amid the others’ teasing, all is seemingly forgiven as the cat and turtle duo walk off the final page hand in hand, the back of Olive’s sandwich board reading, “And Matt is silly!” Freeman depicts his diverse animal cast against white backgrounds, allowing their facial expressions to speak volumes. But while readers will no doubt empathize with both Joe and Olive, the ending is too neat—there’s not even an apology.

The too-simple resolution and final act of revenge blunt the impact of the story’s message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7406-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How to Catch… series

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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