Cozy, dozy, comforting fare.

MAX AT NIGHT

A nocturnal quest yields great rewards for the little black cat with the big yellow eyes.

Last seen mixing up his monsters and mice in Max the Brave (2015), cute kitten Max preps for beddy-bye. Yet his usual litany of “good night”s hits a snag when the moon is nowhere to be found. Determined to bid his lunar pal good night, Max moves from a tree to the rooftops to the highest hills. Sympathetic winds uncover the moon, gleaming and bright, who assures Max that it can hear him, even when he’s safe at home. Max’s plight and nighttime quest will ring true for any child who has ever called out from a dark bedroom for comfort. Though Vere does not take the opportunity to explain the waxing and waning of the moon, the lapse doesn’t detract from the fact that this outing surpasses Max’s last. The interior pastel backgrounds, so familiar from the earlier book, yield to twilight’s ochres and periwinkles, then to deep reds and blues. These deeper tones, paired alongside Max’s brilliant yellow eyes, recall such classics as Sam and the Firefly. Vere’s digital illustrations give the mouthless Max eyes that appear uncommonly expressive, though they do little more than look or close.

Cozy, dozy, comforting fare. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3296-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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