Beautiful, kid-friendly images and a charismatic feline narrator should hook young readers on this introduction to Russia.

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ÁNDALE PUSS

WHERE TO NEXT?

A cat embarks on a journey and must figure out where she’s arrived in this debut picture book.

Ándale Puss is a gray, overalls-wearing cat who packs her bag to travel the world. Parachuting into a new location, she’s not quite sure where she’s landed, only that she’s cold in the snowy environment. After encountering a local warthog who kindly serves her borscht (“She dips in her tongue, and then her whole head. / Her kitty cat whiskers are turning bright red!”), some Matryoshka foxes startle her, causing her to flee into a bookstore. There, a sympathetic bear bookseller hands her works by Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. Later, Ándale Puss sees a sign for “Moskva” and realizes she’s in Russia. The charming feline is an enthusiastic narrator, and debut illustrator Gibbs’ watercolors present her full of energy along with a captivating cast of animals reminiscent in design, if not technique, of Richard Scarry. Handley relates the humorous adventure in accessible and flowing rhyming couplets. The interjections of Russian script, with suggested pronunciations and the English translations below, help readers feel how strange it must be for Ándale Puss to confront foreign phrases while exposing them to the sounds and shapes of another language. Endnotes describe how the author learned that a smile can bridge linguistic and culture gaps and help travelers make friends—a moral that the cat’s escapades wholeheartedly and effectively represent.

Beautiful, kid-friendly images and a charismatic feline narrator should hook young readers on this introduction to Russia.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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