PUG & PIG AND FRIENDS

From the Pug & Pig series

Now that Pug and Pig are fast friends, it’s time to meet some of their other buddies.

In the yard of their large Victorian house, dog and pig explore and run in circles with their friends Robin and Squirrel (with the latter’s prominent stripe, Chipmunk might be a better name, though their tail is fluffy). Cat just watches these shenanigans, waiting for an opportunity to engage in her own fun: surprising Pug. Cat and Pig find this activity wildly amusing, but the other three “do not like surprises at all.” When a thunderstorm suddenly strikes, it’s every friend for themselves. Squirrel and Robin go to their tree nests, Pug and Pig run to their (dog)“house” (which looks like a small version of their Victorian “home”), and Cat, frightened by lightning, gets stuck in a tree. There she remains until clever Pug lures her down with her favorite pastime, which this time amuses all five friends. Not much happens in this outing, and there’s little to no character growth, making this closer in feel to the duo’s first meeting (Pug Meets Pig, 2016) than to their shining Halloween moment (Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat, 2017). The simply drawn cartoon scenes with few details and blocks of color keep the focus on the expressive faces and body language of the friends. Cat’s adorned with a collar and flower atop her head, Pig sports a blue shirt with a yellow ruffled collar, and Pug has a bow tie. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6300-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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