ROLY-POLIES

A multitalented family of googly-eyed bugs lives underneath the Grand Variety Theatre. They're called roly-polies; or, more properly, the Poly family. They're only an inch tall, with big eyes, a snout, feelers and 16 legs. (The two each stands on wear shoes.) Carretero's breakdown of roly-poly anatomy resembles a lab chart. For ease of movement, they can roll up into a ball. Like their aboveground human counterparts, the roly-polies are savvy performers, each with unique, brightly colored ensembles. They include: Maggie the Mouth, a captivating storyteller; Castor and Eurydice, dramatic superstars of the stage; lounge singer Ramon Bonbon, who sports a Salvador Dalí moustache; dancer Glamorous Gabrielle; magicians Izzy and Whizzy; and many more. One day, a visitor changes their lives forever. A flamboyant flea named Hopping Henrietta arrives on a messenger pigeon all the way from Moscow and exhorts the roly-polies to see the world as travelling performers. Henrietta is an artists' agent, you see. At last, the Poly family is able to fulfill great-great Grandpa's dream to have their own troupe! Carretero's imagination is loopy and delicious; her cheeky, multi-colored illustrations have a dash of Gahan Wilson. As the bulk of the book is set up and description of the different bugs, it's awfully light on actual story. An excess of whimsy doesn't make up for absence of plot. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-84-938240-1-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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