It's not a complex story, but it's a wise one that shows through a specific example how siblings get along, even when they...

HUG IT OUT!

The push and literal pull (usually hair) of sibling rivalry is explored in a direct and comically knowing way in animator Thomas’ debut picture book.

Woody and Annie, whose names can't be an accidental allusion to the famous New York filmmaker, are a brother and sister who can't stop fighting. They’ve stressed out their mother, who, in a had-enough moment of brilliance, serves up a fitting punishment: Woody and Annie must hug out every conflict. The fighting continues in progressively ferocious fashion until the hugging punishment proves too much. “ ‘I can't take one more hug,’ Annie finally admitted. ‘Me neither,’ sighed Woody. ‘I'm as flat as a pancake!’ ” The two spend time apart until the inevitable thaw brings them back together toward a predictable but highly effective punch line: getting into trouble because they miss the hugs. Not surprisingly, Thomas’ watercolors throughout convey a strong sense of cinematic motion: as Mom contemplates the first “Hug it out,” a double-page spread gives readers the equivalent of a suspenseful close-up. There's a cute cat and a mouse hiding in the background of some of the pages, but it's Annie and Woody, a pair of white towheads, who fill this book with smarts and life.

It's not a complex story, but it's a wise one that shows through a specific example how siblings get along, even when they often don't. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30314-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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New dads will eat this up.

MADE FOR ME

A giant hulk of a man describes his emotions as his child captures his heart.

“On the day you were born, I beamed with pride. / My eyes filled with tears. I joyfully cried. / From the moment I saw you and called out your name, / the world as I knew it was never the same.” The rest of the book proceeds to demonstrate just how thoroughly this tot has their father wrapped around their finger and shows the dad lovingly caring for his growing child’s every need: bottles, diapers, soothing, tickling, feeding, bathing, playing, reading, and exploring the world. While the rhyme and rhythm aren’t always spot-on and one illustration depicts a crib instead of the cradle referred to in the text, there is no denying the appeal of this father-child pair, as their bond is more than apparent. The dichotomy between the tiny redheaded tot and the giant lumberjack–look-alike dad—red plaid shirt, blue jeans, full red beard and mustache, and tiny head perched atop a round body with tree-trunk forearms—both white, adds to the sweet sentimentality (sometimes slipping into saccharine) of this book. While young children may relish the opportunity to use this as a springboard for hearing about their own babyhoods with their dads, new fathers are just as likely an audience, the sweet refrain—“Of all the children that ever could be, / you are the one made just for me”—tugging at heartstrings.

New dads will eat this up. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945547-69-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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