THE SECRET FRIEND

In the new Read Me/A Panda and Gander Story series, Gander decides to write a letter, and Panda can’t help but notice the proceedings and inquire about them. Panda learns that Gander is writing to a “secret” friend, and even as the bear urges the bird to be more loving in the way the letter is signed’suggesting the inclusion of three kisses and a big red heart—he stews over his own suddenly shaky friendship. When Gander wildly adds stickers and border art to the missive, Panda is quite taken aback, wondering who the secret friend is. Gander sends the letter off (in a slit in a shoebox) and when the letter “arrives,” it is addressed, of course, to Panda. Dunbar (see review, above) is especially astute at picking up on the emotional nuances of how children interact. Younger listeners will understand better than he does Panda’s drooping self-esteem and fear that a new friend has replaced him in Gander’s eyes. Craig’s illustrations are expressive—a dash of eyebrow communicates Panda’s uncertainties—while backgrounds and a scattering of project paraphernalia (stickers, scissors, colored pencils) convey the child-size realm the two friends inhabit. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0720-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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