When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be...

TOADS ON TOAST

Toads are not a breakfast food.

You’re an elementary school teacher. You hold up this picture book. Exactly half of your students say, “Ewwwww!” Exactly half look delighted. So half the class will be pleased to find out that no toads are eaten in the course of this book. Mamma Toad throws herself in front of the recipe book before Fox can cook anybody. “Wait!” she calls out. “There must be a better recipe.” Jack draws each ingredient as it goes into the pan: an egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, bread and butter, no toads. Some of your students will want to start cooking before you’ve finished the book, and fortunately, Mamma Toad’s Secret Toad-in-a-Hole Recipe appears at the end of the story. The words “1 toad” are crossed out. A few students will be disappointed by this, but they’ll love the pictures of the swarming baby toads getting into food fights and jumping in the honey pot while Fox cooks dinner. And whether they’re for or against a toad diet, almost 100 percent of your students will want to hear the book again.

When the author suggests that the recipe “can be a favorite in your family, too,” many people in the audience will be inclined to believe it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-662-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Sweet and affirming.

STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS

After a little boy and his tiny elephant are barred from the Pet Club, they befriend other children with unusual pets.

The first-person narrative has a quiet, contemplative feel: “The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in. / No one else has an elephant.” His pet is shy of sidewalk cracks: “I always go back and help him over. That’s what friends do: lift each other over the cracks.” Embodying dejection after the two turn from that large, titular sign on the door, a double-page spread—a Photoshop-augmented linoleum block print—depicts a dark teal cityscape slashed with raindrops and bobbing with black umbrellas. The Caucasian boy, his pet (in matching red scarves), and a little African-American girl in cornrows and a red-and-orange striped dress are the bright spots in this poignant tableau. Turns out that this girl—a pet skunk curled on her lap—has been turned away too. “He doesn’t stink,” she says. “No, he doesn’t,” concurs the boy and then suggests, “What if we start our own club?” Observant children will spot a porcupine, penguin, and giraffe peering from brownstone windows along the way; they and their children join others with equally exotic pets. Yoo’s concluding scenes depict a treehouse occupation (its restrictive message changed to “ALL ARE WELCOME”) and multiethnic, multispecies harmony.

Sweet and affirming. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1647-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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