Humor and humility mark Ty’s arc in his third outing.

FRIENDS OF A FEATHER

From the Life of Ty series , Vol. 3

Now that his best friend, Joseph, is out of the hospital and returning to school, second-grader Ty hopes things will be just as they used to be, but he finds that change is a normal part of life.

Excitement and trepidation govern Ty Perry’s mood in the first weeks at school when Joseph returns. Ty’s expectations that their relationship will resume uninterrupted are confounded when Joseph’s recovery induces much curiosity and attention from the rest of the class, leaving Ty confused, sometimes jealous and wondering if he can share his longtime friend. Focused on his own feelings and thoughts, Ty seems to ignore Joseph’s reticence about his return and what he missed at school. An incident at a nursing home where Ty is visiting with his mother and the rescue of an injured wild bird force Ty to approach life more realistically, learn about responsibility, and in the end, appreciate and understand Joseph better. Ty is a somewhat self-centered 7-year-old; while this is developmentally appropriate, it also makes him hard to relate to, unlike such chapter-book age-mates as Stephanie Greene’s Owen Foote and Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho. Given his solipsism, his insightful revelation at the end—“Things change and life goes on and it’s not always easy”—is quite the mature conclusion.

Humor and humility mark Ty’s arc in his third outing. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42288-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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