Even the quietest of readers will see a bit of themselves in this raucous tot.


A youngster tries to control his thunderous voice.

Sullivan, with a bulbous head and extra-wide mouth reminiscent of the title character of David Shannon’s No, David! (1998), can’t stop yelling. His mom wearily mutters, “Sullivan, I can’t hear myself think!” “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HEAR THINKING!” Sullivan roars with his head thrown back and jaw seemingly unhinged. Boisterous Sullivan does feel remorse. He tries to tape pillows over his mouth as a solution, to no avail. The adults in Sullivan’s life are patient; Sullivan just can’t suppress his loud tendencies. “I have loudness. In my body. Bubbling up. Always,” he explains. Biggs visually deepens the metaphor with greenish-blue bubbles starting in Sullivan’s stomach, Sullivan’s cheeks bulging as they increase, until suddenly he lets out “a giant Tarzan jungle YELL.” Sullivan’s mom suggests counting to three as a coping mechanism; it works, but luckily not all the time. Sometimes, as Sullivan learns, being loud is a good thing. Sullivan’s noise is rendered as an erupting greenish, gaseous cloud spilling from his mouth, which can be visually misleading yet is also strangely appropriate. Sullivan and his family are White, but his school community is racially diverse. Some may give the side-eye to the repeated invocation of Tarzan the “jungle king” to characterize Sullivan’s loudness, particularly when he uses it to bring a classmate of color into line, literally. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.5% of actual size.)

Even the quietest of readers will see a bit of themselves in this raucous tot. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30772-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.


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


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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