A powerful work, formidably illustrated.

WAR

Minimal text accents full-bleed, emotive watercolor illustrations in this Portuguese import from celebrated author and poet José Jorge Letria and his illustrator son.

The book opens with a near-black, abstract spread populated with spidery, serpentine shadows that subsequently creep and crawl across a stark landscape. A crow or raven leads the mass of darkness as “war spreads through the day like a whispered, swift disease” until it reaches a dark building inhabited by a faceless, uniformed human figure. Spiders, centipedes, beetles, and snakes march across a map-covered table as the ominous human leader dons a medieval jousting helm, sets books alight, and musters armies. Wordless spreads in dark, muted grays, military greens, and dull browns feature toy-soldier–like rows of faceless infantrymen, 1940s-style planes dropping bombs over a darkened European city, and the dark clouds and rubble the maneuvers leave in their wake. While not, perhaps, an obvious choice for young audiences well removed from the horrors of war, the frank but thoughtful wording and masterfully abstracted illustrations will provide an opportunity for caregivers to broach the heavy subject matter in a safe environment. War, personified, “feeds on hate, ambition, and spite” and is “never able to tell stories”—but this book is sure to open a door for processing and healing. Of particular note is a spread of surreal, wriggly human figures, so small as to cohere into a pattern rather than an illustration, bookended by “War is thunder and chaos” and “War is silence.”

A powerful work, formidably illustrated. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-726-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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