A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different.



Like many immigrants, Chee-Kee Loo the panda feels out of place when he first moves to Bearland with his family.

Drawing from her parents’ own experiences moving from South Korea to the United States, Rim recounts an abridged version of the often told immigration story. Even though the bears in Bearland are welcoming and friendly, little Chee-Kee can’t “help noticing that he was just so…different” and feels he “won’t ever fit in.” In this new place, bears use forks, but Chee-Kee uses chopsticks or eats with his hands; sunglasses are the norm, but he wears a conical sun hat; kites are diamond-shaped, but his is rectangular. Mr. and Mrs. Loo, on the other hand, make the best of the situation. When a little bear cub tells them, “You look funny!” Mrs. Loo replies, “Oh, thank you. You look funny too! How lovely.” One day, Chee-Kee is sitting in his favorite tree when some local bears get themselves into a fix. Chee-Kee springs into action. He realizes that because he’s different, he’s able to save the day. Channeling Japanese sumi-e ink painting and Chinese brush painting in combination with other mixed media, Rim reproduces the energetic, quirky style of her Birdie books. She creates a whimsical world where bears in every shape, color, and size live happily together.

A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-40744-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Willems’ formula is still a winner.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet