Why couldn’t Doris have just kept Frankie as her beloved blankie? (Picture book. 3-5)

FRANKIE THE BLANKIE

Doris the gorilla tries to make others respect her attachment to her blankie.

Although the title names Frankie the blankie, this is really Doris’ story. She loves her bright purple blankie, and all’s well until a rhinoceros passing by says “Only babies play with blankies, you know.” Embarrassed, Doris tries to do without Frankie; and then, bereft, she attempts to pass him off as other things—a hat, a bandage, a hankie. Mishaps ensue with other jungle animals, and some are hard to parse: when Doris pretends Frankie is a bandage on her foot, it’s unclear why a bird mistakes him for another bird and tries to kiss him, for example. Sattler’s vibrantly colored acrylic-and-digital art is the strength of this picture book, which ends up sending mixed messages about security objects as the plot progresses. When Doris hides Frankie and only takes him out in secret, a friendly lemur spies her and asks if Frankie is a puppet. Doris is inspired. “Yes it is!” she replies and then entertains the animals with a puppet show. The bullying rhino is included in this happily-ever-after ending, which isn’t quite satisfying. Was the rhino right after all? Is this a book to help ease children away from transitional objects? Or is it one that validates their attachments?

Why couldn’t Doris have just kept Frankie as her beloved blankie? (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-675-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

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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