This odd Duck and grouchy Bear make an excellent pair.

COME HOME ALREADY!

From the Goodnight Already! series

Will Bear get a vacation from Duck? Will Duck survive Bear’s absence?

When Duck goes for his daily visit to his neighbor Bear’s house, he finds a sign on the door that says “Gone fishin’ / Back next week.” Duck can’t believe his friend left him behind. Trekking through the woods, Bear’s happy to be away from his intrusive neighbor. Duck’s not—he can’t find anything to do with himself (and he tries a lot of diversions). But Bear does not find camping as easy as he thought; he’s not successful at fishing…and the woods can be scary at night. Something spooky comes out of the woods—much screaming ensues—but it’s only Duck, come to check on Bear and bringing his camping skills (and snacks). Bear’s actually glad to see his neighbor; camping’s more fun when not alone…but solitary Bear isn’t so sure how he feels when, once home, Duck says, “I’ll always be by your side, Bear. Always and forever.” John and Davies team up for a third (and possibly the best) tale of reluctant, one-sided friendship. The story, told entirely in the characters’ monologues (with a bit of dialogue toward the end), is dynamic and begs to be hammed up during read-alouds. Davies’ bright and funny illustrations are equal partners in the telling of the tale and its humor—Bear’s expressions say it all.

This odd Duck and grouchy Bear make an excellent pair. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-237097-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Sweet and affirming.

STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS

After a little boy and his tiny elephant are barred from the Pet Club, they befriend other children with unusual pets.

The first-person narrative has a quiet, contemplative feel: “The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in. / No one else has an elephant.” His pet is shy of sidewalk cracks: “I always go back and help him over. That’s what friends do: lift each other over the cracks.” Embodying dejection after the two turn from that large, titular sign on the door, a double-page spread—a Photoshop-augmented linoleum block print—depicts a dark teal cityscape slashed with raindrops and bobbing with black umbrellas. The Caucasian boy, his pet (in matching red scarves), and a little African-American girl in cornrows and a red-and-orange striped dress are the bright spots in this poignant tableau. Turns out that this girl—a pet skunk curled on her lap—has been turned away too. “He doesn’t stink,” she says. “No, he doesn’t,” concurs the boy and then suggests, “What if we start our own club?” Observant children will spot a porcupine, penguin, and giraffe peering from brownstone windows along the way; they and their children join others with equally exotic pets. Yoo’s concluding scenes depict a treehouse occupation (its restrictive message changed to “ALL ARE WELCOME”) and multiethnic, multispecies harmony.

Sweet and affirming. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1647-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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