Though gratifying for fans of the illustrator’s art, this bear doesn’t otherwise quite earn its space in the bed.

THE BEAR IN MY BED

The protagonist of Wan’s The Whale in My Swimming Pool (2015) returns to find another surprise.

The opening endpapers promise fun, with repeating images of a bed-sized bear and a small child rotating through precarious configurations, trying to get comfortable in a bed for one. Sure enough, silliness ensues. The child tries to get them both ready for bed, but the bear doesn’t seem to get it: “I said potty time, not party time!” remonstrates the child. Spread after spread of shenanigans culminates in bedtime and a moment of quiet…before a boisterous twist conclusion. It’s a promising premise, bolstered by the author/illustrator’s beloved graphic art. In addition to welcoming back the racially indeterminate, brown-haired protagonist, readers of The Whale in My Swimming Pool will enjoy spying a familiar face through a bedroom window. Bold lines and clean, colorful shapes bring the exuberant naughtiness of bedtime struggles to life—a full-page illustration of a gleeful, underpants-as-headwear–bedecked bear, twirling in ribbons of toilet paper pretty much sums it up. The story, though, never quite moves beyond a collection of silly moments. In a missed opportunity for suspenseful page turns and engaging pacing, the text, primarily composed of the child’s comments to the bear, appears in the same spreads as the bear’s mischievous misunderstandings, causing it to read flat.

Though gratifying for fans of the illustrator’s art, this bear doesn’t otherwise quite earn its space in the bed. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30038-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more