SCRITCH-SCRATCH A PERFECT MATCH

It all starts with a flea. When it lands on a scruffy dog, it initiates a series of encounters that lead to mad adventures. The flea bite causes the dog to jump wildly and land on a man. They both go flying into a mud hole and get caught in a rainstorm. When they get the remedy to stop the itch, the flea jumps to a cat and the next round of mayhem ensues. Told almost entirely in a simple aabb rhyme scheme, the book adds interest and enthusiasm via onomatopoeia and mild expletives executed in large, bold upper-case letters. They “Squish-squash” in the mud, and the dog’s tail goes “whump-whump” as the man cries “gadzooks” and “egads.” Although rhyming “flea” with “immediately” is more than tortuous, most of the rhymes are of the one-syllable variety and are nicely accessible for young readers. Lester’s computer-enhanced pencil-and-watercolor cartoons are highly exaggerated and filled with movement. Readers’ eyes will be drawn to the immediate action, but there are also lots of details they might notice on a second perusal. A puzzled rabbit sits in the grass, a couple of birds laugh hysterically at the muddy twosome and a snail and frog also watch the antics. Clever fun and lots of giggles. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25004-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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