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

TIMO GOES CAMPING

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...

LOST AND FOUND

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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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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