From the Dolphin School series , Vol. 1

Young dolphin Pearl encounters braggarts, bullies, and friends during her first day at magical dolphin school.

The Coral Cove Dolphin School is where young dolphins go to learn the magical skills they need for their roles as protectors of the ocean. Pearl’s excited on her first day. To help her, Pearl’s father gives her the advice that becomes her didactic motto for the rest of the book: “Always choose kindness.” At school, Pearl quickly makes friends but also encounters Flip, a cardboard character who exists just to brag. Of course Pearl, her new friends, and Flip all end up in the same pod. As the book progresses, the dolphins’ character traits (boastfulness, impetuosity, kindness, etc.) are hammered in repetitively, interspersed with worldbuilding exposition communicated in lectures. At recess with older dolphins, they encounter a bully (no motivations needed—he’s just a bully), who eventually dares Flip to swim alone in an area known for sharks. Sure enough, a shark appears, and the plucky heroes save the day (with the teachers arriving just in time for the danger to have passed). After this bonding experience, Flip no longer brags but is “smart and funny”—readers will have to take the narration’s word for it, though, as it’s just one last instance of telling instead of showing.

Sinks. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-75024-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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