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From the Nocturnals series

Not exactly peculiar but far from compelling.

Three animal friends try to figure out why a sugar glider’s favorite food is missing and encounter a new neighbor in their community.

The three anthropomorphic, nocturnal animals, Tobin (a pangolin), Bismark (a sugar glider), and Dawn (a fox), are puzzled when Bismark finds only one pomelo in the tree. They hear strange sounds and smell unfamiliar scents, both of which cause them to conclude they “have a prowler in [their] presence.” This turns out to be a possum, who plays dead when she is frightened by the others. Bismark, already annoyed that she’s taken at least one pomelo, thinks her behavior is “peculiar,” and he tells her so when she comes to. Alliteration with the letter p dominates several of the ensuing passages as Penny the possum defends herself against Bismark’s insults (Penny’s “not pleasant” but “peculiar”; “Penny prowls and she pillages”). The other animals take her side, and eventually Bismark apologizes. The writing is both stilted and likely too sophisticated for many new readers; the art, which is largely redundant of text, provides cues to help readers with decoding, but its uninspired setting and bland, animation-inspired characterization do little to enhance the feeble storytelling. (Editor's note, 9/13/18: In our original review of this book, printed in our 9/1/18 issue, we expressed a concern about the grammatical use of "lay" instead of "lie." The publisher has corrected that error, so we have revised the review to reflect the book that will be available to consumers.)

Not exactly peculiar but far from compelling. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944020-19-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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