This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments.

COME, READ WITH ME

A fast flight through the settings of famous children’s stories.

This title begins with the happy faces of two young children—one with dark-brown skin and curly black hair and the other with lighter-brown skin and straight black hair. As the pages go by, the children explore the imaginary lands of famous fairy tales and stories. Full of smiles, the two friends travel through sea and air, pass castles and candy houses, and have tea in Wonderland. While the illustrations are double-page spreads pleasingly full of color and detail, it is the syncopation (or lack thereof) that makes the story awkward. “And a jungle of wild things who march to their very own beat. / Oh, the places we’ll go, the things you will meet.” With an uneven meter, the verses defy easy scansion. The literary references scale from short nursery rhymes, like “Humpty Dumpty” for the very young, to complex stories for older readers, like Charlotte’s Web and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The two characters just observe these places while the references whiz by, with up to five stories mentioned on a page; when copyrighted characters are depicted, they (appropriately) often look nothing like what children familiar with them will expect. Despite the potential for confusion, this title does pay homage to the wonderful world of imagination found in children’s books.

This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1787-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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A simple but important lesson about anxiety that will speak to young worrywarts everywhere.

THERE'S A UNICORN IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

A troubled little unicorn needs serious help.

There are “worry gremlins” all around threatening his peace of mind. Kids will feel engaged and empowered as they follow the directions to get these gremlins out of the picture. Young readers are told to “wiggle your fingers to make some magic dust,” tickle the unicorn, tell him a joke, and shake the book. None of these tactics quite do the trick, since the gremlins keep coming back and Unicorn’s horn gets stuck in the page. A gentler shake frees the horn, and the text offers another solution, one that kids can take to heart—“The best way to get rid of a worry is to tell someone about it.” Luckily, Unicorn’s friend Monster, an innocuous blue being with tiny pink horns, is there for Unicorn to whisper his worries to. Readers are also urged to whisper something encouraging to Unicorn, who thereafter feels much better. Fears allayed, he and his friends indulge in an exuberant celebration. Kids can join in as they happily sing together against a double-page spread of stars, rays of light, fairies, and disappearing gremlins. The digital illustrations are humorous, and varying typefaces and energetic page reveals add to the fun. This entry in the Who’s in Your Book? series follows the same pattern as the others and includes characters from the previous books.

A simple but important lesson about anxiety that will speak to young worrywarts everywhere. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43476-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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