Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CAKE

From the Not an Alphabet Book series

Bear frantically and very dramatically searches for a thief who has stolen the delicious chocolate cake.

Bear is distraught that the cake, which was supposed to appear on Page 5 of his simple alphabet book, has disappeared. Bear pleads directly with readers for help in finding the thief somewhere within the book. The furry protagonist then questions suspects, barreling through the alphabet letter by letter. Even inanimate objects draw suspicion, for it’s possible that the helicopter or the kite might have helped the culprit escape. Bear continues to blame everyone and everything he encounters, but most have strong alibis and witnesses. Finally he fingers Pig as his prime suspect, punishing him severely. But Octopus, Robot, and Walrus are skeptical and have noticed some anomalies. Sharp-eyed young readers will take note as well, for there are clues in plain sight from which Bear tries to divert attention. There’s the empty plate on his own page, dark stains around his mouth, and several pauses for ice cream and yogurt. When confronted, he denies knowledge or tries to silence his accusers. But he is truly caught. However, his punishment actually delights him, for he must bake a new cake. Boutavant’s bright, large-scale illustrations are filled with delightful details, and Bear’s overwrought reactions are positively loony. This is a perfect vehicle for reading aloud or reading together over and over, with lots of opportunities for highly expressive emoting and giggles galore.

Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1267-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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