TERRIBLE THINGS

AN ALLEGORY OF THE HOLOCAUST

An earnest fable that is too ponderous and too shadowy to be effective. It opens with the small forest creatures, content in the clearing "until the day the Terrible Things came." Rabbit sees their Terrible shadows, which loom like the shadows of huge human busts, as the Terrible Things announce that they have come for "every creature with feathers on its back." "We don't have feathers," clamor the frogs, the squirrels, the porcupines, the rabbits, and the fish; and so only the birds are taken this time. The other creatures, relieved to be spared, don't much care, though Little Rabbit asks them, "What's wrong with feathers?" But of course the Terrible Things come back. . . first for the bushy-tailed, next for the swimmers, and so on until everyone is gone except (unrealistically) for Little Rabbit, who has hidden in a pile of rocks. "If only we creatures had stuck together, it would have been different," says Little Rabbit sadly, making Bunting's point clear but not its application. Who or what are the Terrible Things in a small child's world? (Their own answer might be parents and teachers.) And how can children gang tip against them? Kids will probably be able to parrot the lesson, but without a lot of pulling and prodding, will they relate to it? And if so, how?

Pub Date: March 19, 1980

ISBN: 0827603258

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1980

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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