Beginning chapter-book readers will look for the friends’ next adventure and head to the library whenever their own skills...


It’s tough to relax and enjoy a camping trip when there’s a friend along whose sense of humor is hurtful.

Allenby’s five woodland characters are full of personality. Timo, a rabbit, is the nervous one. When Suki, a squirrel, suggests a camping trip, Timo’s dubious expression speaks volumes. But Suki knows how to get the gang onboard, assigning each a job title that fits their strengths; Bogs is dubbed the “Toad of Tunes,” for example. As the trip unfolds, the group’s inexperience causes mishaps, which become fodder for Suki’s teasing. Timo is uncomfortable, but everyone else is laughing, though Suki’s target’s body language is clear. All Timo hopes is that he doesn’t do something foolish, too. But it’s inevitable, and when Suki opens her mouth to speak, Timo yells, “Stop!” “Suddenly all the words he had been holding in burst out like water from a dam.” This allows the group to have a conversation about their feelings, and Suki is plainly remorseful. That night the five share a wonderful evening practicing the camping skills Timo learned at the library. And Suki shares her idea for their next adventure….Griffiths’ digital illustrations depict the animals realistically but also anthropomorphize them with clothing; they walk on two legs. Vignette, single-page, and double-page artwork serves to show the friends’ emotions and illustrate the text.

Beginning chapter-book readers will look for the friends’ next adventure and head to the library whenever their own skills are lacking. (Animal fantasy. 6-9)<

Pub Date: March 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77278-040-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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Cool beans indeed.


From the Food Group series

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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