The perfect story for goal-oriented readers (as well as those who need the occasional nudge).

HUGO AND THE IMPOSSIBLE THING

Seemingly impossible tasks can be completed—with a bit of motivation. The titular Impossible Thing—a dizzying labyrinth of thorns, boulders, rapids, and heights—stands near the edge of the forest and is so named by the woodland creatures because everyone assumes that traversing it is out of the question. This can’t-do attitude prevails until Hugo, a French bulldog, appears and asks the question: “How do we know the Impossible Thing is impossible if no one’s ever tried to get through it?” In his quest for answers, Hugo seeks out the experts: Mr. Bear is strong, Little Fox is clever, Miss Otter is an excellent swimmer, and Old Mr. Goat is a mountain climber. Although their answers express pessimism, Hugo’s determination inspires them to try, and together the animals work to beat the Impossible. The story’s flow is smooth and begs to be read aloud; children and caregivers will enjoy Hugo’s can-do attitude and his unjudgmental reception of the initial skepticism shown by the forest crowd. The lush, soft-edged illustrations will display equally well in a lap or at the front of a room. Hanson dials the cuteness level down a bit from her illustrations in Close Your Eyes (2021) and other collaborations with Lori Haskins Houran, but the animals’ expressive features, especially cheerful Hugo’s, are winning. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.) The perfect story for goal-oriented readers (as well as those who need the occasional nudge). (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20463-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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