The power of teamwork becomes the people’s power, all wrapped in a cheerful romp.


Collaboration is the key to success in this picture book.

The story enticingly begins with five double-page spreads, wordless except for onomatopoeia, as a cat leaps at a big-eyed crab sitting on a rock and the crab pinches back. The cat flees and leaps after a small bird next, who flies away with a startled “AAAH!” The illustrations, done in a collagelike style that combines simple shapes, deftly play with visual sequencing and wonderfully expressive characters to cleverly set up the story. After the bird lands near the crab, the text begins, with the crab waxing poetic: “Oh! If only I might escape this life of muddy scuttling and fly.” To which the bird replies, in a surfer-dude tone (the distinct voices of each character are a joy), that it wishes for “big, snapping claws” in order to “pinch that cat on the nose.” The two have an epiphany: combine forces and become “crabbird!” The illustration shows the bird clutching the crab as they fly through the air. The combinations don’t stop, and “crabbird!” becomes “craburtlebird!” and “birdraburtlebear!” as they pick up a turtle and a bear to become even more “UNSTOPPABLE!” Or so they think—until they spy bulldozers clearing their forest home for a shopping mall. Fear not! The power of cooperation reaches its zenith in a satisfying, high-spirited conclusion (that includes illustrated human diversity, most notably in the form of a president who’s a woman of color and a vigorously multiracial Congress).

The power of teamwork becomes the people’s power, all wrapped in a cheerful romp. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6504-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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