Sincerely celebrates kindness and comfort.

Ollie, a friendly teddy bear, has the best job ever: taking care of “his girl, Amena.”

One night while Amena sleeps, a silver sailboat appears at her window with an old teddy bear at the helm, there to take Ollie to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic for his very first time. At the picnic, Ollie meets “teddies of all shapes and sizes” and is introduced to some of them—“Scottie, from the Department of Bedtime Planning; Mr. Pants, Chief Cuddling Officer”—before participating in “bearaoke” and the other activities. While VanSickle’s playful use of corporate-speak describes and connects the personality of each bear with its name, Hanson reinforces this, painting a tartan bear and a bear with endearingly high-waisted pants; soft, warm hues of greens and blues and bright lights illuminate this party deep in the woods. During the meeting that follows the games, bears are recognized for demonstrating “excellence in teddy-care.” Hearing the encomiums, Ollie feels “smaller and smaller,” thinking he is just an “ordinary bear.” Ollie is in for a surprise, learning that small acts like cuddles and kind words can have big effects. VanSickle writes a kind, fuzzy story, but readers will note it’s very binary, evident in the repetition of phrases “his girl” and “her boy” when referring to the bears’ charges. Amena has light-brown skin and loosely curling dark-brown hair.

Sincerely celebrates kindness and comfort. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6392-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019


Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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