WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER BE?

One New Yorker cartoonist gives a younger (of course, Methuselah would be younger) one a chance to show his chops. And the chops are considerable. With an interrogatory text running to just a few words per page, readers are asked in dialogue balloons whether they’d prefer to be a stick or a stone, an elbow or a knee, rain or snow, thunder or lightning, and so on. Bliss (A Fine, Fine School, 2001, etc.) reduces the actors in his painted scenes to a bare minimum—a magic hat, from which a plush rabbit with a wand conjures each alternative, and a boy and a girl wordlessly (until the end) reacting to their choices. Each form, each change of expression, is modeled with both spirit and exquisite skill, in subtle gradations of light and color. The final query, “Would you rather be alone . . . or together?” leaves the children undecided—an open invitation to readers to ponder this life-shaping choice. This thoughtful, though less gleefully silly, alternative to John Burningham’s classic Would You Rather? (1978) showcases an up-and-coming illustrator with plenty of promise. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029653-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS?

Not only does Jenkins (Life on Earth, 2002, etc.) again display a genius for creating paper-collage wildlife portraits with astonishingly realistic skin, fur, and feathers, but here on alternate spreads he zooms in for equally lifelike close-ups of ears, eyes, noses, mouths, feet, and tails. Five examples of each organ thrusting in from beyond the pages’ edges for each “What do you do” question precede spreads in which the point of view pulls back to show the whole animal, with a short accompanying caption. Visual surprises abound: a field cricket’s ears are actually on its legs; a horned lizard can (and does, here) squirt blood from its eyes as a defense mechanism; in an ingenious use of page design, a five-lined skink’s breakable tail enters and leaves the center gutter at different points. Capped by a systematic appendix furnishing more, and often arresting, details—“A humpback whale can be 50 feet long and weigh a ton per foot”—this array of wide eyes and open mouths will definitely have viewers responding with wide eyes and open mouths of their own. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 24, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-25628-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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