Humorous repetition lightens the quarrel, and readers learn that forgiveness is a process.

RITA & RALPH'S ROTTEN DAY

Anger can sometimes cause ridiculous mishaps.

Rita and Ralph live some distance from each other, with many hills between their two homes. Every day they travel “down the hill, and up the hill, and down the hill, and up the hill,” until they meet at the apple tree in the middle, where they high-five each other before playing. One day, they decide to play a new game called Sticks and Stones. Rita ends up with a painful lump on her head, and they both run away. Ralph realizes that he has hurt his best friend. He needs to apologize. So he travels the entire distance to her house: “down the hill, and up the hill, and down the hill…aaaaand up the hill.” By that time, he is cranky and doesn’t sound very sorry while apologizing. He runs all the way home. Rita realizes she may have been a bit rash, so (including all of those hills, which will be a gas in storytime) she goes to apologize to Ralph. But again, it doesn’t quite work. “It has been a rotten day.” Luckily, the next one is much better! The horizontal trim brilliantly showcases Oswald’s expansive art and the distance between the two chums while the typography is set so it emulates the hilly path. Deedy’s author’s note acknowledges inspiration from the popular hand game “Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle.” Rita and Ralph both have brown skin and dark hair.

Humorous repetition lightens the quarrel, and readers learn that forgiveness is a process. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-21638-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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