A cautionary tale on a minor note.


There are lots of noises and many other animals that make Felix the tree frog worry.

Young readers could start to fear for his safety, but the book’s narrator constantly works to reassure and engage them. “Plip! Plop! Splash! What’s that noise? Felix looks worried, doesn’t he? Let’s turn the page and show him there’s nothing to be scared of.” It turns out that a “friendly turtle” has made the noise. Other animals, such as a “shiny beetle,” “playful monkeys,” and a “slithery snake,” cross the little frog’s path, and there are other actions for readers to take: “Clap your hands and shout, ‘Shoo, slithery snake’ ”; counting the branches of a tall tree (the book must be turned 90 degrees to view it) that Felix climbs to get away from a “busy woodpecker.” When something else comes up that tall tree, the narrator exhorts readers to say “Leap, frog!” But Felix is a little more aware of his own environment than readers are, and all’s well. The vibrant, full-bleed illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle’s collaged flora and fauna. While the text reads a little bumpily, it is engaging and the pictures should work well with a group. Some children may want to know if any of the other animals really could be harmful to the little tree frog. This book does not provide the answers.

A cautionary tale on a minor note. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1205-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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