Food for thought, though the portions are larger and tastier elsewhere.


A meditation on the perils of possessiveness.

In what is not so much a story as an open-ended discussion starter, a solitary squirrel stakes a claim—“It’s MY tree and these are MY pinecones”—and then whirls off on a round of imaginary what-ifs. Having first contemplated the prospect of being challenged for ownership and then the notion that there just might be enough shade and pine cones to share (“But we all know where that kind of thinking leads”), the squirrel proceeds to envision ways to reinforce its property rights…maybe by building a wall (nothing topical to see here, oh no). In the illustrations, the bucolic setting is transformed into a mental landscape dominated by a towering wall that stretches off into the distance to leave squirrel and tree alone in stark isolation. Thinking that there might be more trees or bigger pine cones to claim on the other side, the squirrel scampers to the top of the wall—and in a wordless final scene is left staring at a crowded woodland aswarm with other squirrels. Readers may be left feeling cast adrift, particularly as the plotline comes off as, at best, thin next to flavorsome explorations of the theme like Jeff Mack’s Mine! (2017), Alex Willmore’s It’s My Sausage (2020), or Tallec’s own (as illustrator) How Selfish! written by Clare Helen Welsh (2020). (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42% of actual size.)

Food for thought, though the portions are larger and tastier elsewhere. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0547-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.


From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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