Imaginative—but lacking heart.


Bob—a cartoon character with a human body and a large, pink face that seems to merge a rabbit, a pig, and a badger—is repeatedly distracted from buying a wrench to fix his tricycle.

When a short bout of searching turns up no wrench, Bob goes to “Megamart, the ultra-giant, supersized megastore where you can find ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING.” There, Mr. Mart, a blue-faced, mustachioed figure in a cowboy hat, persuades Bob to buy an absurd contraption called a “fridge-hat” instead. When Bob shows off his purchase to friends Pedro and Lucien, they ridicule him. A third friend, Paulette—whose pink tail pokes out from a green dress—reminds Bob about his mission to buy a wrench. (Like Bob, his friends are brightly colored anthropomorphic creatures.) Twice more, Bob goes wrench shopping, and twice more, similar episodes ensue, as gullible Bob buys musical pajamas and then a screaming machine. Each time he is confronted with his mistake, Bob stuffs his new purchase into his closet. The punchline wraps up a simple, silly tale that warns against the dangers of sales persuasion and conspicuous consumption. The writing is made for reading aloud with different voices, and the silliness and repetition will keep the youngest viewers entertained. Unfortunately, each time Pedro, Lucien, and Paulette react to Bob’s foolish behavior, the creatures’ reactions are both unkind and gender-stereotyped, the two male-presenting characters jeering and the female-presenting one demonstrating practicality. The illustrations are colorful and comical, in an offbeat palette.

Imaginative—but lacking heart. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2449-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...


From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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A forgettable tale.


Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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