SNOW FRIENDS

When boisterous pet dogs inadvertently play matchmaker for two children, a friendship is forged.

Snow is falling. Oscar the dog is ready for Matt, the White boy he lives with, to take him on a walk. Matt promises to do so later, but Oscar runs off. At a pond thick with ice, he meets Daisy, another dog so excited to be outside that she runs from the brown-skinned girl who had been holding her leash. With the action often divided into panels to accelerate the book’s pace, the dogs run and play vigorously in the snow. When Matt—now out of the house, looking for Oscar—and the girl finally locate their pets, they become fast friends, like their two dogs. The story is a pet-centric one: The dogs take the focus, and they don’t have owners. Instead, Matt is referred to as “[Oscar’s] boy,” and Daisy yelps, “My girl!” as she licks the girl’s face. Dog lovers may get a kick out of the way in which the dialogue is written: The dogs’ barks are translated, if you will, into English: “Let’s ice-skate!” yelps Daisy, and “Let’s build an igloo!” barks Oscar (a task they accomplish with ease with neither tools nor thumbs). There is an infectious exuberance underlying the story, one communicated in the opening spread (“Snow! Snow! And more snow!”) with drifts of snow building around Oscar’s house as well as in the tireless, curious energy of the dogs. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A joyous, wintry read. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-17131-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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GOOD NIGHT, GORILLA

As the sleepy keeper bids him good night, Gorilla snitches his keys; then he creeps after him, letting the other animals out. In a lengthening parade that includes a mouse first seen taking one of Gorilla's bananas, they pad along behind the keeper like faithful dogs, enter his house, and curl up to snooze in his bedroom; Gorilla snuggles into bed next to the keeper's wife. The man is too drowsy to notice, but she does; taking Gorilla by the hand, she leads the whole parade back to the zoo with an air of resignation that suggests this has happened before. Gorilla certainly knows the ropes; he and the mouse (still toting the banana) follow her back, this time to settle in the middle of the bed. The amiable cartoon characters, vibrant palette, and affectionate tone of the author's art recall Thacher Hurd's cheerful illustrations. Delightful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 13, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22445-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1994

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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