A mildly humorous story that doesn’t really stand out in the crowded arena of interspecies friendship.

PUG MEETS PIG

A little dog named Pug is perfectly happy in his cozy, suburban world until pushy Pig moves in.

Pug lives in a big house with a fenced backyard and his own little doghouse to sleep in. Pig arrives (seemingly out of nowhere) wearing a friendly smile and a dress with a ruffled collar. She moves right in on Pug’s territory, slurping up his dog food, making friends with the neighbor cat, and taking over Pug’s doghouse. Pug is ready to leave home, but a new doggy door (installed by the unseen owner) gives him the ability to get in and out of the main house, while Pig can’t fit through the little door. Pug takes pity on poor Pig, gnawing on the door to enlarge it so it can be a “piggy door” for Pig’s convenience as well. Pug and Pig then immediately begin to share everything, becoming best friends and living happily together. Pug’s abrupt change of heart is a bit too sudden to be believable, with Pig not really earning her acceptance as a new housemate. The simple, understated text with just a few words on each page will be enjoyed by younger preschoolers and will also be accessible to new readers, and the jaunty, oversized illustrations have a cheerful, straightforward appeal that suits the text. The only human characters are three neighbor children who can be seen peeking over the fence at Pug and Pig; all are children of color. Pig and Pug, by Lynne Barry and illustrated by Gemma Correll (2015), covers similar territory but with more sophisticated humor.

A mildly humorous story that doesn’t really stand out in the crowded arena of interspecies friendship. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2066-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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