The sentiments are certainly sweet, but this vein may be just about played out.

WISH

Another in Dodd’s series of diminutive picture books that celebrate the loving bond between an adult and a child.

On the cover are the two characters, a wolf and a cub (their very stylized outlines could also be huskies or malamutes). The narrative voice is that of a parent or caregiver, and it relates, in rhyme, how the child was wished for and how much the narrator wants only good things for the small one. The adult longs to teach and to share and is even delighted by the knowledge that the little one will grow up and away and will eventually teach the parent. The soft-edged illustrations are stylized and simple, primarily in black, gray, white, and blue, liberally splashed with silver foil. The two wolves gambol in the leafy or snowy woods, and the last wish given is that all the cub’s wishes come true. The book’s small, square size makes it nice to hold, and the illustrations allow room for imagination, but the rhyme is thick and clunky: “Side by side, we’ll walk the world. / We’ll make a super team! // And troubles shared are never / quite as bad as they first seem.” Happy, which publishes simultaneously, is done in browns and oranges and gold foil, with an adult owl and an owlet, and the same kind of heavy rhyme with a few more clichés.

The sentiments are certainly sweet, but this vein may be just about played out. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8009-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave...

RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL

Rufus Leroy Williams III is determined to learn how to read, but can he convince Principal Lipid to allow a pig in school?

Rufus makes the best of his illiteracy by imagining his own stories to go with the pictures in his favorite book, but still he longs to read. The tiny pig knows just how to solve his problem, though: With a backpack, he can go to school. But Principal Lipid seems to think it takes more than a backpack to attend school—if you are a pig, that is, since pigs are sure to wreak all sorts of havoc in school: track mud, start food fights, etc. Rufus decides a lunchbox is just the ticket, but the principal feels differently. Maybe a blanket for naptime? Or promises not to engage in specific behaviors? Nope. But the real necessary items were with Rufus all along—a book and the desire to learn to read it. Gorbachev’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasize Rufus’ small size, making both his desire and the principal’s rejection seem that much larger. Parents and teachers beware: The humorous pages of imagined, naughty behavior may be more likely to catch children’ eyes than Rufus’ earnestly good behavior.

But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave him room to dream.” (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0416-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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