An imaginary zoo that will set readers to chortling.

UNNATURAL SELECTIONS

A gallery of chimerical critters that Darwin himself would be hard put to justify.

Edwards catches the exuberant “Whalephant” in midbreach, water streaming from its flapping ears as well as its flukes and a broad grin behind its trunk and tusks. He places the sinuous “Cowaconda” (“when her head is near, her body’s yond-a”) in a verdant meadow alongside a Koalarus, a Dorse and a Swox (as well as a fully ordinary Holstein that stands under a tree in whose branches an anaconda twines). The Tyrabbosaurus Rex sits on a stool, waiting for his meal (“He loves when his tasty carrots / are delivered by friendly parrots”), its toothy, reptilian head bedecked with long white ears sitting atop a fuzzy white body. With these and other lovingly detailed portmanteau creations, Edwards (Mixed Beasts, 2005) takes nature past its outer limits to hilarious effect. Made up of easily recognizable, if notably unlikely, parts that are rendered with crisp, colorful precision, each of the 12 animals poses proudly in (more or less) natural settings. The odd, smaller Frogtopus or Snailagator hides in the weeds for sharper-eyed viewers to spot. The comment attached to the seven-animal Skip serves for all: “A wondrous beast / to say the least.”

An imaginary zoo that will set readers to chortling. (key to smaller creatures) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0555-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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