Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value.

BAT WINGS! CAT WINGS?

Why do animals have the physical attributes they have—and not others?

Everyone knows that a moose has antlers, but a goose does not. It’s the same with the rest of Gehl’s rhyming animal pairs: Clams have shells, but lambs don’t; an eagle has a beak, but a beagle doesn’t; bats have wings, but cats don’t; a hog has a snout, but a frog doesn’t; a grouse has feathers, but a mouse does not. The final set breaks the pattern: A kangaroo has a pouch, but you and I don’t…except “maybe sometimes.” The turn of the page reveals a baby sweetly tucked inside their parent’s cozy sweater-cum-pouch (both present White). The text is terse and patterned: “Moose antlers? Yes! / Goose antlers? No!” Each pair is positioned on a double-page spread, the silly one always appearing on recto. The animals are done in what looks like watercolors and pastels, realistic except for the absurd appurtenances on the second animal in each pair. The artwork belies the reductivism of the concept. Several of these animals will not be familiar to very young children, and they are unlikely to understand the weirdness of showing antlers on a goose’s back instead of wings, or the lamb’s shell ears. Aside from a response of wonder or incredulity—and the thrill of yelling No at the book—it is hard to imagine what a child would glean from reading this or how a caregiver would attempt to meaningfully explain the concept.

Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-56846-374-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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