A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end.

GOOD NIGHT OWL

Something is preventing Owl from falling asleep.

Owl leans back against his white pillow and headboard. “Squeek!” says something underneath the bed. Owl’s never heard that sound before, so he fastens his pink bathrobe and answers the front door. Nobody. It must be the wind; back to bed. Bidding himself goodnight, he climbs into bed—and hears the noise again. Time after time, he pops out of bed seeking the squeaker. Is it in the cupboard? He empties the shelves. Under the floor? He pulls up his floorboards. As Owl’s actions ratchet up—he destroys the roof and smashes the walls, all in search of the squeak—so does his anxiety. Not until he hunkers down in bed under the night sky (his bed is now outdoors, because the house’s roof and walls are gone), frantically clutching his pillow, does he see what readers have seen all along: a small, gray mouse. In simple illustrations with black outlines, textured coloring, and foreshortened perspective, Pizzoli plays mischievously with mouse placement. Sometimes the mouse is behind Owl or just out of his sightline; other times, the mouse is on a solid, orange-colored page across the spread from Owl, which removes him from Owl’s scene in a rather postmodern manner. Is the mouse toying with Owl? Who knows?

A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1275-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.

I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE

A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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