The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale.

THE STORY OF DIVA AND FLEA

A large cat and a small dog strike up an unlikely friendship in this early chapter book.

Set in Paris—a setting charmingly brought to life in DiTerlizzi’s illustrations—the book introduces readers to Flea and Diva. Flea is a large cat who is also a flâneur: “someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets...of the city just to see what there is to see.” Flea's flâneur-ing is how he chances to discover Diva, a very small dog who guards the courtyard of the grand apartment building where she lives. At first Diva is afraid of Flea (as she is most things) and yelps and runs away. This makes Flea laugh, and he visits the courtyard daily. Eventually Diva strikes up the courage to ask Flea if he enjoys hurting her feelings, and Flea feels ashamed. The two become friends. Clever plot twists are woven into the storyline, as is the occasional French word, including the chapter headings. Willems’ adroit storytelling is on display as Flea encourages Diva to try flâneur-ing herself and helps her overcome her fear of feet, while Diva encourages Flea to try indoor living complete with regular Breck-Fest—a novelty in Flea’s scavenging street life—and helps him overcome his fear of brooms.

The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale. (author’s note, illustrator's note) (Animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2284-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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