Visually appealing and wryly amusing.



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


Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candied Plums

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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