This underwear affair is wise, witty, and just brief enough.

SOMETHING'S WRONG!

A BEAR, A HARE, AND SOME UNDERWEAR

A chatty bear causes a stir in the forest by leaving the house in an embarrassing pair of white underwear.

When Jeff the bear runs down a checklist of things to do before leaving the cottage in the morning, one big item is forgotten: taking off the tighty whities that Grandma sent. As Jeff encounters pal after pal (none of whom wear underwear, nor indeed any human clothing), the bear has a sense that something is very wrong. But what could it be? Finally, after many animals break the fourth wall to ask readers, “Why is that bear wearing underwear?” Jeff goes to a rabbit friend named Anders who explains. And while there’s a huge moment of awkwardness when all the animals show up, Anders and Jeff are able to seize the moment. The underpinnings of this charming picture book are already strong (underwear is inherently funny), and the babbling small talk Jeff engages in while trying to figure out what’s wrong adds a lot to the increasingly silly situation (“Am I right or am I right? I think I’m right”). John’s text perfectly pitches the jokes to a strong conclusion at just the right pace while Kraan’s energetic illustrations, with hardly a straight line in the entire book, add to the sense of ultimately harmless cringe. The book is also a clever primer on handling embarrassment and how it can sometimes be dealt with by simply changing the perspective of what’s happening. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This underwear affair is wise, witty, and just brief enough. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31388-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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