A delicious cooking adventure that storytimers will love like anything.

THE COOK AND THE KING

Donaldson and Roberts cook up a treat for young readers.

After yet another soggy pizza from a box, the king decides he needs a cook “like anything.” He “trie[s] out lots and lots of cooks” and decides on Wobbly Bob, who looks the part but has “feet that [shuffle] and hands that [shake]” and admits to being “a bit of a wimp.” Wobbly Bob may well turn out to be more royal disaster than royal cook. The king fancies a supper of fish and chips, but Wobbly Bob is scared of everything—fishing, digging the spuds, chopping, and frying. “I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m terribly scared,” is Wobbly Bob’s constant refrain, but the cheerful king helps every step of the way. “He fished and he fished like anything”; “he dug and he dug like anything”; “he chopped and he chopped like anything.” In fact, the king does all of the work and congratulates Wobbly Bob for the “delicious dish,” which they sit down and eat together. Donaldson’s lively rhyming text, tailor-made for reading aloud, is nicely complemented by Roberts’ colorful illustrations—strong on facial expressions that add to the story so that no explanation is needed when Wobbly Bob looks quizzical when the king congratulates him on his “great cooking” and gives him the job. Complexions in this medieval European–esque kingdom vary from pale to ruddy.

A delicious cooking adventure that storytimers will love like anything. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3757-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 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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