CAVEBOY CRUSH

Caveboy meets cavegirl in Ferry and Kuefler’s rambunctious tale.

Neander is a “typical caveboy,” whether he’s chasing giant mammoth butterflies or spending time with his beloved pet rock, Rock. Then he spots Neanne, a short and hairy—thus, “perfect”—cavegirl. After a little grinning and groaning, which his parents correctly diagnose as symptoms of a “crush,” a smitten Neander runs off to court the elusive cavegirl. He first heads to the Field of Bees to snatch some flowers. In front of Neanne, Neander plops down the flowers and then…CRUSH! He obliterates the flowers. An unimpressed Neanne dashes away, leaving behind a disappointed Neander. It’s time for a “grander” plan. Next up is the Waves of Salt, where Neander scoops out a massive conch shell. He struts back to Neanne, deposits his offering beside her house, and then…CRUSH! Unsurprisingly, Neander’s attempts at romance are not successful, but half the fun of the story comes from his efforts to impress his eventual new friend. Though the premise relies on traditional gender roles to a disappointing degree, Ferry’s joyful, plucky words practically guarantee exciting storytimes. Bolstered by Kuefler’s smooth, colorfully sparse pictures, Neander and Neanne’s story—a mini-saga between two bushy-haired, light-skinned prehistoric children—delivers belly laughs amid mild twists and enormous fun.

From CRUSH to AWW. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3656-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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