A sensitive tale of loss, friendship, and courage.

THE BOY AND RED SQUIRREL

A TALE OF FRIENDSHIP BONDS

In this children’s book, a boy wonders how to help his friend, a red squirrel, when new construction threatens her home tree.

Johnny, a little boy, is happy to learn that soon, new houses will be built in his area, which could mean new friends. Going off by himself as usual one day, he notices a red squirrel who is busily gathering and eating nuts. She’s shy at first, but Johnny’s quietness builds trust, and she tells Johnny about herself. The boy admires the squirrel’s beauty and calls her Nutting for her love of nuts, her favorite food. The two become friends. Nutting learns to trust the boy, showing him her home tree, and Johnny is always careful to respect her: “She was wild but fragile. Johnny learnt to be gentle and kind. He felt he was the protector and should care for her.” One day, though, the new construction begins, and Johnny is alarmed to realize this will threaten Nutting’s home. He tries to think of a substitute that will keep her nearby. Perhaps the small playground down the road will have a good bush or tree or, failing that, the city park farther away. Though sad for Nutting, Johnny vows to keep visiting her no matter what: “Changes would come, but the two friends were determined to stay together.” Li (Philo, Our Dog, 2013) tells a sweet story tinged with melancholy, though it ends on a brave note. There is simply nothing to be done about the new construction that will destroy Nutting’s beloved home tree, and, unlike many children’s books, there is no magical or last-minute solution that can protect it. Johnny hopes to make something in his backyard out of a carved wooden stand, but his creativity founders on the reality of what squirrels need. This makes his determination to help all the more moving. Li’s softly colored, attractive illustrations effectively underline the story’s poignancy. A small quibble is Li’s unidiomatic use of “the land,” as in “a house built on one side of the land.”

A sensitive tale of loss, friendship, and courage.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5692-0

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A rollicking tale of rivalry.

IT HAPPENED ON SWEET STREET

Sweet Street had just one baker, Monsieur Oliphant, until two new confectionists move in, bringing a sugar rush of competition and customers.

First comes “Cookie Concocter par excellence” Mademoiselle Fee and then a pie maker, who opens “the divine Patisserie Clotilde!” With each new arrival to Sweet Street, rivalries mount and lines of hungry treat lovers lengthen. Children will delight in thinking about an abundance of gingerbread cookies, teetering, towering cakes, and blackbird pies. Wonderfully eccentric line-and-watercolor illustrations (with whites and marbled pastels like frosting) appeal too. Fine linework lends specificity to an off-kilter world in which buildings tilt at wacky angles and odd-looking (exclusively pale) people walk about, their pantaloons, ruffles, long torsos, and twiglike arms, legs, and fingers distinguishing them as wonderfully idiosyncratic. Rotund Monsieur Oliphant’s periwinkle complexion, flapping ears, and elongated nose make him look remarkably like an elephant while the women confectionists appear clownlike, with exaggerated lips, extravagantly lashed eyes, and voluminous clothes. French idioms surface intermittently, adding a certain je ne sais quoi. Embedded rhymes contribute to a bouncing, playful narrative too: “He layered them and cherried them and married people on them.” Tension builds as the cul de sac grows more congested with sweet-makers, competition, frustration, and customers. When the inevitable, fantastically messy food fight occurs, an observant child finds a sweet solution amid the delicious detritus.

A rollicking tale of rivalry. (Picture book. 4-8 )

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-91885-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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