This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent.

LOVE, TRIANGLE

When can a Triangle cause real trouble?

When it comes between Circle and Square, true best friends “since they were a dot and a speck.” Each shape is anthropomorphized: stick-figure hands and feet, different types of eyes, stereotypical spectacles for the squarish “bookworm,” yellow-striped headband for Circle, who “knew how to rock and roll,” and cool blue forelock for the “bold and exciting Triangle.” Colors in retro-style digital illustrations look a little toned down from bright crayon colors but still pop. The basic shapes are echoed and sometimes combined in other illustration elements. Adults may want to point these out or ask young children to search for them (the four triangles in a grilled-cheese sandwich, a party hat), but this book also focuses on what happens when a new, third person changes the relationship of an established pair. The text and illustrations attempt to make these emotional changes (and the reactions to them) tangible, but they sometimes fail by using visual and verbal puns that will not be fully understood by child readers. When Square and Circle pull too hard on Triangle’s sides, the shape becomes “pointless” and Triangle’s body disappears, leaving only his facial features, for instance. To solve the problem, Square repairs to the library and the lab, Circle trains hard, and they both work together to bring back their friend, forming “quite a trio.”

This sophisticated picture book works too hard at its important theme, but it may appeal to children of a mathematical bent. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241084-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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