SHARK VS. TRAIN

With two boys at a toy chest, one clutching a shark and the other a train, thus begins the most unlikeliest of competitions. Who will win—shark or train? Well, it does depend on the situation. If underwater, the shark will surely triumph. But at roasting marshmallows? The train beats the shark’s soggy mess every time. From one wacky circumstance to the next, from bowling to hot-air ballooning, there is always a clear winner. Until, suddenly, there is not. Both the shark and the train are not very good at playing hide and seek. They also stink at video games (“Sure would help if we had thumbs”). Just when the competitors can’t bear it any longer, it’s time for lunch. The boys toss them carelessly aside—until next time, that is. Lichtenheld’s snarling shark and grimacing train are definitely ready for a fight, and his scenarios gleefully play up the absurdity. The combatants’ expressions are priceless when they lose. A glum train in smoky dejection, or a bewildered, crestfallen shark? It’s hard to choose; both are winners. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-00762-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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