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From the Nocturnals series

Imagination can surely overcome boredom, but the unkindness in this book isn’t imaginary.

Bismark again finds himself on the outside as a new nocturnal animal introduces herself to his group.

The sugar glider is bored. Dawn, a red fox, says he just needs to use his imagination. As if on cue, Karina the kinkajou arrives. Bismark doesn’t appreciate her vibrant imagination. He calls both her and her “sparkle sprites” (aka fireflies) “kooky,” later saying she is “full of ballyhoo” and telling her, “I think you are cuckoo.” This comes after the trio of friends has followed Karina over a stone-path “river,” under a weeping-willow “waterfall,” and past a tree-trunk “rainbow” on the way to a “sparkle sprite spectacular.” Tobin the pangolin gleefully joins in with the imaginative fun, Bismark remains skeptical, and Dawn, a sage look on her face, seems to take the role of adult. After Bismark’s furious outburst, Karina hugs him, explains “We’re just finding fun things to do!” and then “flies” across a “canyon.” Tobin and Dawn follow, and Bismark has to choose between being “a little kooky, too,” or being bored alone. Yee’s animation-inspired illustrations do little to extend the tale other than overportraying Bismark’s bad attitude and anger. Backmatter includes factual information about each of the nocturnal animals and a glossary of “kooky words.” Unfortunately, there is no mention of mental health, bullying, or the hurtful nature of the words Bismark uses.

Imagination can surely overcome boredom, but the unkindness in this book isn’t imaginary. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-944020-25-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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