Like a peacock, this tale’s shining qualities don’t necessarily get the story off the ground.


A peacock learns to love his unusual appearance with a little help from his friends—and a well-timed thunderstorm.

Mo and his close-knit crew of fledgling peacocks do everything together. They have many things in common except for their coats: His friends sport brown and yellow feathers, and Mo’s down is stark white. As the peachicks grow up together, Mo’s snowy mantle remains while his friends’ plumage turns “bright, bold, beautiful colors.” Whenever this fact causes Mo to “feel different,” his pals chime in with reassurances. “You’re still a peacock!” they say, and, “Birds of a feather groom together!” These affirmations help at first, but Mo’s all-too-familiar feelings of loneliness intensify when the Annual Dance in the Rain arrives. Mo sits on the sidelines, too glum to dance in the year’s first rain with his friends. Soon, the night gives way to stormier conditions, thwarting the revelers with low visibility. Lightning flashes, and Mo realizes his pearly plumage is aglow; if he joins the festivities, he can light the way and save the party. Swooping in, “Mo saw what he’d had all along—bright, bold, beautiful feathers.” Debut author Singh gives fresh wings to the dare-to-be-different narrative by normalizing Mo’s tougher feelings, even with the presence of supportive friends. Still, an overlong story plus a couple unhelpful responses from Mo’s mates (“Don’t think about it!”; “Colors don’t make the bird!”) dampen the story. Backmatter includes a note from the author about her heritage as well as peacock facts. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.7% of actual size.)

Like a peacock, this tale’s shining qualities don’t necessarily get the story off the ground. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11644-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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


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 plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.


From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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