This screwball of a story will leave readers hankering for a slice.

SECRET PIZZA PARTY

From the madcap creators of Dragons Love Tacos (2012), another animal foodie shows just how far he will go to get his favorite meal.

Raccoon loves pizza. He can’t get enough of the “gooey cheesy-ness, salty pepperoni-ness, sweet, sweet tomato-ness and crispity, crunchity crust.” Alas, there is one thing that stands between Raccoon and his pizza—human beings. More specifically, human beings with brooms. They always chase him away! How will Raccoon ever get his paws on the delectable dish that he desires? By throwing a secret pizza party, of course. After donning an elaborate disguise in order to get the pizza, then following an even more elaborate escape route riddled with obstacles (past the broom factory, over the broom enthusiasts club), Raccoon is finally ready for his SECRET PIZZA PARTY! (Shhhhh, it’s a secret, remember?) But before taking a bite, he sees a masquerade ball going on right outside his tree. Will his built-in mask and wily ways help him get even more pizza? Salmieri’s droll illustrations capture Raccoon in many moods: quiet desperation with his nose pressed longingly against the pizza parlor’s window, furtive, trench-coated scheming. And yes, finally, deliriously happy, cheesy gluttony.

This screwball of a story will leave readers hankering for a slice. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3947-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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