A beautifully written page-turner about belonging.


From the Orca Echoes series

Badir, a newly arrived Tunisian immigrant to Canada, rallies along with his classmates to save a beaver’s natural habitat from destruction by local residents annoyed by the animal’s constant damage to surrounding trees.

Badir is captivated by what he initially thinks is a huge, swimming rat, an animal he briefly spotted in a pond on his way back from school. With the help of the internet, his teacher, classmates, and also forthcoming strangers eager to share what they know, Badir soon learns that the little creature he spied in darkness is in fact a beaver, Canada’s national symbol. He also finds out that local residents, worried by how the beaver might harm the trees around its habitat, are starting a petition to have what they regard as a pest removed from the park. Unfazed by the task ahead, Badir, along with his classmates, organizes a countercampaign—brainstorming sessions, banners, and all. Who will ultimately get the upper hand? Will the beaver saga have a happy ending? With her gentle tale, Stewart does an excellent job at promoting cultural understanding, not only by foregrounding a young Muslim character and his family, but also by setting the story during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, introducing the reader to many of its facets and doing so with effortless grace. Gendron’s black-and-white illustrations depict a multiracial urban setting.

A beautifully written page-turner about belonging. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1727-2

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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