A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear.


When Alice Babette wakes up on her birthday, she’s certain “it will be a day filled with surprises.”

Unfortunately, the first is that her best friend, Gertrude, with whom she lives, doesn’t wish her a happy birthday. It improves from there, as Alice wanders through Paris, riding a merry-go-round and watching a puppet show in the Luxembourg Gardens. Meanwhile, readers see that Gertrude is not as hardhearted as she seemed: she spends the day marketing for and preparing a grand birthday dinner for her friend and composing a birthday poem. Alas, Alice is the cook in this family, and all of Gertrude’s good intentions can’t turn her into one, particularly when the muse beckons. Kulling’s affectionate look at one fictional day in Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein’s life together is as rambling as her subjects’ separate peregrinations. Stein’s experimental writing is alluded to (only Alice “seem[s] to understand or appreciate her friend’s work”); the story’s focus is on the loving, complementary relationship between the two women—indeed, the pair feels like many a children’s-literature duo: Mouse and Mole, Frog and Toad, and George and Martha come to mind. Leng’s delicate watercolors depict two middle-aged white women in frumpy skirts, Gertrude stockier than Alice and with close-cropped hair. Her images of Paris, the women’s old-fashioned kitchen, and their poodle, Basket, charm.

A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-820-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.


A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Kid-friendly dark humor.


The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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