A story whose message of joie de vivre, especially in adverse situations, is worthwhile; however, it lacks the fresh...

BOB AND JOSS TAKE A HIKE!

Laid-back Joss and uptight Bob are back; this time the two white friends are on a hike in the woods.

Relaxed Joss and buttoned-up Bob are camping. Bob (pacing in a circle while Joss roasts marshmallows—an illustrative setup that clues readers in to their personality types right away) says camping is boring. Joss suggests a hike. The two set off and immediately get lost. Illustrator Vogel sticks to the obvious as he shows stressed-out Bob with lots of buzzing insects and bug bites while easygoing Joss communes with bluebirds and butterflies. The story follows the same thematic arc as the first book (Bob and Joss Get Lost, 2017): Bob worries and panics, and Joss points out the beauty around them and the opportunities for play, wonder, and appreciation. But this time around the story labors, exemplified by Joss’ worn chicken-soup-for-the-soul–like observations: “If we hadn’t gotten lost, we wouldn’t be here”; “The right one is the right one.” The hidden location-markers joke in this story is the elevation note tabs on the tops of the pages, but they don’t complete the story nearly as precisely or satisfyingly as the GPS coordinates in the first book.

A story whose message of joie de vivre, especially in adverse situations, is worthwhile; however, it lacks the fresh cleverness of the first book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-241532-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions.

PLANET KINDERGARTEN

A genius way to ease kids into the new adventure that is kindergarten.

In an imaginative ruse that’s maintained through the whole book, a young astronaut prepares for his mission to Planet Kindergarten. On liftoff day (a space shuttle–themed calendar counts down the days; a stopwatch, the minutes), the small family boards their rocket ship (depicted in the illustrations as the family car), and “the boosters fire.” They orbit base camp while looking for a docking place. “I am assigned to my commander, capsule, and crewmates.” Though he’s afraid, he stands tall and is brave (not just once, either—the escape hatch beckons, but NASA’s saying gets him through: “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”). Parents will certainly chuckle along with this one, but kindergarten teachers’ stomach muscles will ache: “[G]ravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.” Prigmore’s digital illustrations are the perfect complement to the tongue-in-cheek text. Bold colors, sharp lines and a retro-space style play up the theme. The intrepid explorer’s crewmates are a motley assortment of “aliens”—among them are a kid in a hoodie with the laces pulled so tight that only a nose and mouth are visible; a plump kid with a bluish cast to his skin; and a pinkish girl with a toothpick-thin neck and huge bug eyes.

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1893-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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THE LITTLE WOODEN ROBOT AND THE LOG PRINCESS

A brother and sister must overcome obstacles to rescue each other in a marvelous journey.

“There once lived,” the tale begins, and it ends quite satisfactorily with “happily ever after.” In between, two heroic adventures are linked together, each complete with difficulties, brave rescues, kindnesses, and magical coincidences. The little wooden robot and the log princess are gifts from the royal inventor and a clever witch, respectively, for “a king and queen who happily ruled a pleasant land” but had no children. Everyone in the family loves one another, and the siblings play together all day. But when, calamitously, the princess becomes fixed in her log form one night, the little robot doesn’t hesitate to board a ship for the far north to save his sister, and when his parts fail on the way back, the princess steps up courageously. The additional myriad escapades of each young hero are captured in charming graphic montages. Gauld’s crisp, clear art, with captivating small details in backgrounds and endpapers, adds richness to the narrative. The amiable faces of each of his human and humanoid characters, along with those of birds, bugs, and forest creatures, give a feel of intimacy and familiarity. The queen appears Black and the king White, and the princess has brown skin. Gauld’s fairy tale feels both timeless and completely new; utterly fresh, yet like a story heard long ago and finally found again.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4698-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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