Though they may have fun with it, readers’ attempts to sink their teeth into this story will find them gummed up with...

LINUS THE VEGETARIAN T. REX

This dino with a penchant for greenery means well, but his tale is clearly hampered by its confusing message.

If you want to know anything about dinosaurs, then the kid to talk to is Ruth Ann MacKenzie. A whiz at everything related to residents of the Cretaceous, she visits a mysterious new museum exhibit that plants her firmly in the past and within the protective sphere of Linus, a polite, blue T-Rex who wouldn’t dream of eating meat. After watching him munch on plants and pal about with every creature he meets, Ruth Ann decides to set the sweet guy straight. Fortunately, her misguided attempts are interrupted by two hungry velociraptors who are put in their place by a clearly ferocious Linus. Conclusion? “I’m just me—a very big, very brave, very VEGETARIAN Tyrannosaurus rex!” Children may have a hard time determining what lesson they are to take from this. Are they meant to learn that vegetarianism doesn’t make you a wimp? Or that it will win them hordes of adoring friends and fans? Or just not to make assumptions? (Kids like Ruth Ann will note Linus’ many pointy teeth and wonder how he’s going to negotiate that carrot….) Where the story falters, the art leaps and soars. From the many-colored eyes of the iguanodons to the velociraptors hidden on almost every page, the book is a visual treat.

Though they may have fun with it, readers’ attempts to sink their teeth into this story will find them gummed up with uncertain conclusions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8512-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

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.

HEY, DUCK!

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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