If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam.

MALINA'S JAM

From the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series

This entry in the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase, which publishes the books of Disney animators, is about a tea-loving, raspberry-eating bibliophile hedgehog.

Malina is shy and spends more time with her raspberry patch and books than with other creatures. Having built herself an impressive collection of preserved raspberry jam, she learns that her neighbors want to try some and ends up giving it all away. Her new friends return the favor by giving her some of their own favorite snacks as well as by helping her grow more raspberries, thereby replenishing her favorite treat and forging new friendships. Though the story concept and illustrations come from a Disney animator, the text comes from co-author Sauer, who uses simple sentences and repetition to build a tightly constructed story. There’s an overt sweetness to the illustrations, with the kind of bright-eyed, curly-lashed characters one sees in animated Disney films. Malina is an endearing character, though there’s not much else about this story and its execution that distinguishes it from other picture books about friendship and generosity. Disney fans may be interested in seeing an animator switch forms. Appended is a note from the illustrator about her background in animation and why she was happy to try her hand at a picture book. Also appended is a jam recipe—with a reminder to share.

If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02458-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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 wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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