This offbeat, intergenerational story celebrates connection.


Bianca loves to write letters.

The young letter-writer carefully crafts illustrated missives for a Sri Lankan pen pal, a friend in Uganda, a Maine uncle, and two grandmas. But much as this kid likes writing letters, they don’t like postal worker Yolanda. Bianca fears her “scaly talons” (long, manicured red nails) and says: “I think she’d like to eat me up one day. She has probably eaten up dozens of people by now.” One day, Bianca has five letters to mail and walks (alone) to the post office through a bustling San Francisco neighborhood, gathering as much luck as possible along the way. But when Bianca gets to the counter, Yolanda has a surprise in store with the unlikely announcement that she “just served one of the most delightful meals that anyone has ever prepared.” The postal worker proceeds to tell Bianca about the special meal, based on that first detailed in Isak Dinesen’s short story “Babette’s Feast.” Yolanda is now transformed in Bianca’s imagination. The delightful, soft line-and-color illustrations show a diverse contemporary California community; Bianca and Yolanda themselves both have pale skin and dark hair. Bianca’s engaging letters are also pictured. Even though “Babette’s Feast” has little if any natural resonance with the audience, the way Bianca’s dislike turns into curiosity is thought-provoking. Young readers will get caught up in the illustrations, and the idiosyncratic friendship may grow on them. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33.7% of actual size.) This offbeat, intergenerational story celebrates connection. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6651-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Amusing but a little off tempo.


It’s important to hit all the right notes.

A tan-skinned musical composer with puffy black hair is busy at work on his next musical masterpiece when Half Note, a music symbol denoting two beats, feels unappreciated. Half Note is jealous of the more commonly used Quarter Note (one beat) and Eighth Note. Although the other musical symbols attempt to calm and comfort Half Note, she decides to run away. The next day, Composer needs Half Note and panics when he realizes that she’s gone. The other notes and musical symbols try to find her, but it’s only when they try to play her favorite song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” without her—with terrible results—that she comes running back. The story’s humor—which is largely based on “dad joke” puns—is completely dependent on readers’ musical knowledge. The artwork, a mix of acrylic and colored pencil, attempts to add some allegrezza to the piece, and while it’s not unsuccessful, it’s facing an uphill battle. Music teachers and musically minded caregivers may find some value in this story, but it will likely be too specialized for general readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Amusing but a little off tempo. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64567-631-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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