A story about migration and survival with a universal theme and a happy, not-altogether-convincing ending.

KALAK'S JOURNEY

With a nostalgic longing in their hearts but also hope for the future, Kalak the stork and his family leave their old home seeking a better one.

The family embarks on a long and tenuous journey that lasts weeks. Young Kalak, especially, is exhausted and lags behind the flock, almost catching up only to be separated from them again by a storm. Injured and alone on a rooftop in a foreign city, he awakes to the sight of “elegant” local storks. “Get off our roof!” and “There is no room for your here,” say some of them, but another gives Kalak a warm embrace and guides him away to a place where he is found by his family and reunites with them in joy. Finally, Kalak’s flock finds a new home where there is food for everybody and help from others, and he, “a stork of the world,” is now “free to fly high and discover new horizons.” Hébert’s textured, mostly black-and-white illustrations, done in what looks like graphite and with touches of colored pencil, lend themselves to the tenuousness of the storks’ journey. The timing of this book’s publication and the cityscape of the journey’s destination suggest a likely link to Europe’s immigration crisis. Readers may notice gaps in the storyline, and the parallel between human refugees and storks is a forced one.

A story about migration and survival with a universal theme and a happy, not-altogether-convincing ending. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-84-16733-44-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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