It’s difficult to imagine a child enjoying this treacly memento, whatever their age; even parents-to-be may be turned off.

WISHES FOR LITTLE ONE

A baby-shower gift book for attendees to fill with wishes for the new arrival.

Magsamen’s latest is difficult to pin down. Only the final two spreads are meant for the enscribed wishes, so the rest is a picture book, per se, although a saccharine one seemingly directed at babies but meant for grown-ups. “We’ve gathered to shower you with love my dear… // and we made a book of wishes for you to hear! // We are your family, your friends and your neighbors too… // we are so excited to welcome you!” These verses are punctuated with Magsamen’s characteristic illustrations of stylized animals and simple shapes (stars, hearts, the sun) outlined in dashed-line “stitches.” The visual prominence of the animals can make it difficult at first for readers or listeners to realize that they aren’t the “we” used in the text. And once the book reaches the blank two pages for personalized sentiments (“So, as you read these wishes written just for you, / please remember that wishes really do come true!”), one can only assume that the writing style will change from the bouncy rhymes to plain text written for the parents and not the child, and their attention will likely be lost.

It’s difficult to imagine a child enjoying this treacly memento, whatever their age; even parents-to-be may be turned off. (Gift book. 0-2, adult)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9103-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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