Visually appealing and wryly amusing.

BUDDY IS SO ANNOYING

A tale of best friends, one a human child and one a very anthropomorphized boar named Buddy.

The unnamed boy and the boar meet in kindergarten, and the young human immediately complains: “He’s annoying when he can’t keep up.” The strong, expressive gouache paintings with an unusual palette of blue, brown and orange have a hip, contemporary look. They depict the light-skinned redhead and the brown boar racing on scooters and in the swimming pool. The next double-page spread shows the two reaching out for the same piece of food with their chopsticks, and the text reads contradictorily: “He’s also annoying when he’s faster than me!” The two go through the fights that any two boys have, over possessions, fishing competitions, games, and even who can pee farther. Occasional graphic sequences advance the story clearly, mixing with full-page illustrations and double-page spreads. Some drama enters when Buddy goes on vacation and the boy really misses him. An illustration of Buddy in a beach chair with sunglasses and a cellphone reporting, “The waves here are three stories tall!,” opposite the boy lounging at home, trying to top this story, is very cool. The last pages feature thumbnail black-and-white watercolors of two boys growing older, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. A Simplified Chinese version publishes simultaneously, featuring simplified characters and transliterated text directly above the characters. A glossary and a sequence of thumbnail reproductions of the illustrations accompanied by the English text rounds out the package.

Visually appealing and wryly amusing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-945-29511-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candied Plums

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

ROBOT, GO BOT!

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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