Engaging illustrations embellish a somewhat odd tale.

DORMOUSE AND HIS SEVEN BEDS

Why does Dormouse keep showing up—asleep—in other animals’ homes, and how will the dilemma be solved?

“The days in Green Forest were tranquil and uneventful, sometimes even verging on boring.” From the start, the text’s syntax and vocabulary, together with its charming artwork, invite a cozy read-aloud. Each day of this exceptional week, Dormouse inadvertently frightens a different friend by unexpectedly showing up somewhere in their home. Droll illustrations in a cool palette with russet highlights show diminutive Dormouse in locations such as the bathrobe-garbed Rabbit’s indoor carrot patch, Deer’s right antler, and Tortoise’s glasses case. After these and four other animals forbid Dormouse from continuing the practice—without allowing him to explain himself—they learn from Owl, who “would stay awake at night keeping watch over the forest,” that Dormouse, afraid of sleeping alone, has fled to the home turf of “ferocious” Wolf for company. Realistically, an owl is a greater threat to a dormouse than a wolf, but Wolf as villain adds to the fairy-tale flavor of the narrative. Rabbit’s use of “Guys!” detracts from it, as do erratically placed words in boldface. After rescuing Dormouse, the friends figure out a system that seems to work fine. Finally, Dormouse himself arrives at a new solution—which readers may find anticlimactic or possibly off-putting. Judging by pronouns and clothing, all characters are male except for Owl and Pygmy Shrew.

Engaging illustrations embellish a somewhat odd tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-84-946926-6-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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