Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value.

BAT WINGS! CAT WINGS?

Why do animals have the physical attributes they have—and not others?

Everyone knows that a moose has antlers, but a goose does not. It’s the same with the rest of Gehl’s rhyming animal pairs: Clams have shells, but lambs don’t; an eagle has a beak, but a beagle doesn’t; bats have wings, but cats don’t; a hog has a snout, but a frog doesn’t; a grouse has feathers, but a mouse does not. The final set breaks the pattern: A kangaroo has a pouch, but you and I don’t…except “maybe sometimes.” The turn of the page reveals a baby sweetly tucked inside their parent’s cozy sweater-cum-pouch (both present White). The text is terse and patterned: “Moose antlers? Yes! / Goose antlers? No!” Each pair is positioned on a double-page spread, the silly one always appearing on recto. The animals are done in what looks like watercolors and pastels, realistic except for the absurd appurtenances on the second animal in each pair. The artwork belies the reductivism of the concept. Several of these animals will not be familiar to very young children, and they are unlikely to understand the weirdness of showing antlers on a goose’s back instead of wings, or the lamb’s shell ears. Aside from a response of wonder or incredulity—and the thrill of yelling No at the book—it is hard to imagine what a child would glean from reading this or how a caregiver would attempt to meaningfully explain the concept.

Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-56846-374-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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