Grumpy animals are sometimes better left alone.

ALWAYS SO GRUMPY

A surly, big-eyed hedgehog is having a bad day, and it’s up to readers to cheer them up.

The prickly hedgehog opens with the warning: “I am grumpy. I am crabby. I am not having a good day.” The hedgehog then suggests that readers tell a joke or make a silly noise, which elicits a smirk from the hedgehog but doesn’t work to chase away the sour mood. Each double-page spread includes a new demand that is generally unrelated to the previous one and, predictably, can’t improve their temper. Switching back and forth between actions that readers take independently of the book, like making a funny noise, or things readers should perform on the book, like shaking it, lends an inconsistent and awkward feel to the progression of the story. The interactive elements lack the engagement and cohesion of Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) and other books in this style, reading like half-hearted suggestions from a character with no clear motivation other than being grouchy. The hedgehog finally requests a hug and an “I love you,” which seems to turn the bad mood around. The hedgehog exclaims, “Thanks for sticking with me, even when I wasn’t very much fun to be around.” This reminds readers that we all have bad days, but it might not be enough to make this book a pleasant experience.

Grumpy animals are sometimes better left alone. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1620-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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Uplifting and inspiring of further research.

SEÑORITA MARIPOSA

A bilingual love poem of admiration and respect for the millions of monarch butterflies that journey south to Mexico every year.

From a chrysalis on the title page, Señorita Mariposa invites readers to follow the monarch butterfly as it embarks on a journey spanning thousands of miles, “Over mountains capped with snow… / To the deserts down below.” In the same manner, the monarch butterfly exiting the chrysalis at the end of the book then invites readers to flip back to the beginning and restart the journey. Almada Rivero’s warm and friendly illustrations showcase the various people and animals the monarch encounters in its 3,000-mile journey, including a couple of brown-skinned children who welcome Señorita Mariposa to Mexico as the text reads, “Can’t believe how far you’ve come.” Gundersheimer’s recounting of the lepidoptera’s journey is told in a bilingual poem, English set in a serif type and Spanish set in sans-serif. Like the butterfly traveling south and north, the languages switch prominence, displaying in the larger font the principal—and rhyming—language in each spread. Although at times distracting, this technique is a valiant attempt to give equal importance to each language. Backmatter includes facts on the round trip the butterflies undertake, the “super generation” that makes the trek south, and a call to action to protect the monarchs as they slowly lose their habitats.

Uplifting and inspiring of further research. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4070-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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