MY FRIEND LUCKY

A deceptively simple exploration of opposites, illustrated by the relationship between a boy and his dog, Lucky. Milgrim’s (Patrick’s Dinosaurs on the Internet, 1999, etc.) cartoony illustrations depict a Charlie Brown–like round-headed boy and his genial brown dog as they demonstrate a series of opposites on succeeding double-page spreads. “Lucky gives / Lucky gets [kisses]” “Lucky’s sad / Lucky’s happy.” The two characters are surrounded by white space, with only the most necessary contextualizing details added. In the “Lucky’s hungry” picture, for instance, the viewer sees a table with a piece of cake and an excited Lucky; but when “Lucky’s full,” the dog is no longer to be seen, and the boy is left holding a carton of milk, his cake reduced to six crumbs. The “Lucky’s loud / Lucky’s quiet” spread features two nearly identical pictures of the boy doing his homework and Lucky barking (the dog’s mouth is open and little “bark” lines emerge, indicating noise)—the only difference is that in the “quiet” illustration, the boy is wearing earmuffs. Definitely not an introductory concept book, this offering clearly depends on a fairly sophisticated ability to decode the conventions of illustration. It is, however, a splendid primer in the art of visual irony, and its sly humor will have young readers chortling. It is also, of course, a love story; that the dog is not the only member of the pair who is lucky is amply illustrated on the endpapers, which reveal Lucky and his friend waking up together and then settling down for sleep in a happy heap on the boy’s bed. A winner, and not just for dog lovers. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84253-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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