Send this one back out to sea.

PROBABLY A NARWHAL

Narwhals paint on walls—don’t they?

With its long twisted horn (actually a canine tooth), this member of the whale family is not very familiar to most children. The bespectacled kid narrator who has just created an enormous mess declares that “a narwhal is a rainbow-painting, elephant-sized, purple polka-dotted, flying pie maker” in an attempt to shift responsibility for the havoc on to the bluish mammal with the flippers and the horn who just happens to be in the house. Well, the narwhal begs to differ. How does the kid know about narwhals? The narwhal manages to convince the kid that it is the real deal, a fact confirmed by a check on the kid’s smartphone. Conceding, the narrator starts cleaning up the mess, but the action doesn’t stop there. When the narwhal plays a sneaky trick, is the kid fooled? The usual happy ending for a silly picture book takes place, and the kid and the narwhal end up becoming friends. Different typefaces are used for the two characters’ speech (there is no narrative text); the scratchy cartoon pictures are amusing and full of action; and the introduction of a rare mammal makes for a somewhat original twist on the silly picture book. Unfortunately, the setup is too over-the-top to sustain engagement with what is in the end a fairly thin gag stretched out over many pages. The kid has peachy skin and long, straight, black hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.2% of actual size.)

Send this one back out to sea. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-581-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale.

PUG'S SNOW DAY

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 2

Bub the anxious pug tackles snow days and new neighbors in his second outing.

Bub, acclaimed by some as “the cutest pug on the planet,” at first shares the enthusiasm owner Bella expresses about snow days even though he doesn’t know what they are. Then Duchess the cat (mildly antagonistic, in typical feline fashion) rains on Bub’s parade by pointing out that snow is water—and Bub’s no fan of rain or baths. After a comedic and disastrous first attempt, Bub learns how to properly dress for snow and enjoy it. The outdoor fun’s cut short by mysterious noises coming from the new neighbor, which frighten Bella into thinking there’s a monster. Bub puts on a Sherlock Holmes get-up to investigate but becomes afraid himself of the new neighbor’s large dog. Finally, Bella meets Jack, who’s been working on a tree fort, and his dog, Luna, who is enthusiastically friendly. The story ends on a positive note, as they all happily work together on the fort. The full-color cartoon illustrations, especially of Bub, are adorably expressive and certain to please the age group. The generous font and format—short, diary-entry paragraphs and speech-bubble conversations—create a quick pace. Bub’s stylized emoji bubbles return and are most hilarious when used to express his nervous flatulence. Bella and Jack both present white.

A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53006-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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