This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent.

LOVE, TRIANGLE

When can a Triangle cause real trouble?

When it comes between Circle and Square, true best friends “since they were a dot and a speck.” Each shape is anthropomorphized: stick-figure hands and feet, different types of eyes, stereotypical spectacles for the squarish “bookworm,” yellow-striped headband for Circle, who “knew how to rock and roll,” and cool blue forelock for the “bold and exciting Triangle.” Colors in retro-style digital illustrations look a little toned down from bright crayon colors but still pop. The basic shapes are echoed and sometimes combined in other illustration elements. Adults may want to point these out or ask young children to search for them (the four triangles in a grilled-cheese sandwich, a party hat), but this book also focuses on what happens when a new, third person changes the relationship of an established pair. The text and illustrations attempt to make these emotional changes (and the reactions to them) tangible, but they sometimes fail by using visual and verbal puns that will not be fully understood by child readers. When Square and Circle pull too hard on Triangle’s sides, the shape becomes “pointless” and Triangle’s body disappears, leaving only his facial features, for instance. To solve the problem, Square repairs to the library and the lab, Circle trains hard, and they both work together to bring back their friend, forming “quite a trio.”

This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241084-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea...

SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Although today’s kids usually communicate through texting or email, Elliot from the United States and Kailash from India use pictures and a few simple sentences to exchange information about their lives. 

Their teachers facilitate the snail mailing of pictorial letters, just as the author-illustrator did when she visited Nepal, which provided the inspiration for this book. The title, also used as a refrain throughout the book, is a popular saying in India and Nepal, heard by Kostecki-Shaw when she traveled there. Elliot and Kailash explore their similarities and differences, concluding that their lives are “Different, different but the SAME!” The engaging childlike acrylic paintings with crayon, pencil, tissue paper and other collage elements show the busy crowded American streets of Elliot’s city, the traditional buildings of Kailash’s riverside village, the taxis and buses in the States and the taxis and camel-pulled carts in India. The English alphabet is reproduced on wide-ruled notebook paper and the Hindi alphabet (unfortunately unidentified) on a small slate, and both typical American pets (dog and fish) and a whole farmyard of Indian animals appear. Both kids live unusually low-tech lives (no computers or cell phones in sight), but they each enjoy learning about their pen pal’s world.

Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be. (Picture book. 5-7) 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8946-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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