A gentle, realistic early chapter book.


From the Orca Echoes series

Nine-year-old Reece copes with loss: his parents have separated, and his pet frog, Burgess, has disappeared.

Reece tells his own story in present-tense chapters. He makes and puts up “lost frog” posters. He encounters a bully. He slowly develops a friendship with an eccentric classmate, figuring out ways to help Aaron learn to ride a bike. With his older sister, Hazel, and their mother he takes the ferry from Victoria, British Columbia, to Salt Spring Island to camp and look for the frog in the creek where he and his dad first found him. In her first chapter book, the Canadian author sticks closely to Reece’s point of view, seeing the world through his eyes. When an adult steps out of his car to help Aaron, fallen from his bike again, Reece’s first thought is “stranger danger.” But when a guitar player on the ferry admires his frog poster and offers to help spread the word, the two compose and perform a song. A passenger posts a video on YouTube, which impresses his sometimes-critical but mostly supportive older sister. His mother, grieving the trial separation herself, is understanding. While Burgess doesn’t return, Reece, with a new human friend, moves on. Cartoonist Parkins provides illustrations of the major characters, all apparently white, and Reece’s portrait of Burgess, with toothy grin and bushy eyebrows.

A gentle, realistic early chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1478-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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