A well-cultivated story that plants a seed about the value of friends and what they leave with us, even when they’re gone

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HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES

Saying goodbye to a friend is tied together with the experience of climbing in Kirsch’s sentimental latest.

Roger learns a last lesson from his friend Adelia before her family moves away: how to climb a tree. “What if I fall?” he worries. What follows is a primer on both getting up into the leaves and coping with the loss of someone you’re attached to. Kirsch elegantly makes the connection with affirmations that work both ways: “Hang on tight with both hands”; “take it one branch at a time”; and, inevitably, “letting go will be the hardest part!” If it seems tree-twee, the pace and Roger’s perpetually grim but trusting face make up for it. The busily illustrated pages that show Roger and Adelia having their last moments together are intercut with items she’s collected to break Roger’s fall, presented on contrasting white backgrounds. These pages come across like warm, flashing memories. By the time Roger makes his solo climb and falls, smiling, into a gigantic pile of Adelia’s making, it feels like a tremendous and joyful payoff to what has previously seemed like a sad learning experience. Adding to the vibe are Kirsch’s careful details: bespectacled, pink-skinned Roger’s fussy clothing, brown-skinned Adelia’s flower garlands, the ridged texture of the tree itself. Close readers might wonder if Adelia falls victim to the “magical minority” trope, but as both children are equally swiftly sketched it does not seem to apply.

A well-cultivated story that plants a seed about the value of friends and what they leave with us, even when they’re gone . (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3413-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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