Dad announces that it's time for bed, and she sets to work getting her three favorite toys to sleep. Cherry Pig, Thunderbolt...

THE WORLD CHAMPION OF STAYING AWAKE

Little Stella stuffs a month of adventure into a single bedtime.

Dad announces that it's time for bed, and she sets to work getting her three favorite toys to sleep. Cherry Pig, Thunderbolt (a plush mouse) and Beanbag Frog all declare they're wide awake. Gathering them, Stella lays them gently on her pillow and lifts them into the air, "dream[ing] the pillow into something." They dream an ocean, the pillow a ship rocking on the waves. Cherry Pig imagines herself snuggling on a haystack in the loft; she's asleep. Thunderbolt and Beanbag Frog, however, remain awake and full of energy. Stella puts them in a box and, pushing it across the floor, says it's a train. Mouse and frog are transported to the midnight run; Thunderbolt imagines them riding magic horses through the air; he's asleep too. "Starship balloon" proves the way to make Beanbag Frog sleepy. She carries them all to bed and follows their lead. Taylor makes each of the toys’ dreams a poem, which nicely counterpoints the simple main story, though some of the images both in the verse and pictures seem arbitrary. Liao's watercolors are bright, and all the characters look adorable. The ample white space in book's design invites readers in and transitions the characters from reality into their imaginations.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4957-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

more