Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact.

GIVE BEES A CHANCE

Following much the same format as in I’m Trying to Love Spiders (2015), Barton makes a strong case for the value of bees.

Edgar, a torpedo-shaped white kid with googly eyes and a scribble of hair, loves everything the narrator does, including dinosaurs, strawberries, and honey, but he’s not so sure about bees. The narrator proceeds to persuade him to “give bees a chance,” telling him there are “about 25,000 different kinds of bees to love” (a sampling of which are introduced on front and rear endpapers), describing the composition of a honeybee colony and honeybee anatomy, and regaling him with cool bee facts. Edgar’s still not sure, because, he says, “they’re all gonna sting me!” Since many readers likely share Edgar’s apprehension, Barton’s counter to this is delightfully kidcentric: “most bees lose their stinger after attacking,” she says, “which would be like your hand disappearing if you pinched your sister!” Edgar remains unconvinced, so Barton drills down on the importance of bee pollination to the world’s food supply, illustrating it with a strawberry plant that says, “throw me some pollen! I don’t have arms.” Barton’s digital mix of scribbly cartoons and comics-style panels, splashy, watercolor-effect backgrounds, and exuberant hand-lettering makes for a high-energy celebration of all things Apis.

Even the most bee-phobic readers will have a hard time resisting this swarm of humor and fact. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01694-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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