Overall, a mismatch of story and format.

WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT

From the When Your… series

It’s picture day, and everyone wants to look their best—including a very hairy llama.

To prepare for picture day, an unnamed black boy must fix his pet llama’s unruly hair. It turns out that making a llama photoworthy is no easy endeavor: after catching his llama and convincing him to get a haircut, the little boy must wash and detangle his pet’s hair. Next, the pair must choose a hairstyle. After vacillating among choices ranging from a bowl cut to a mohawk, they settle on a “simple trim from nose to tail.” When the llama still won’t cooperate, the boy decides to take a different approach, leading to a twist ending. It is refreshing to see a black protagonist in a comedic story, and the combination of second-person narration and cartoonish illustrations proves witty and engaging. Adults will appreciate Hill’s (When Your Lion Needs a Bath, 2017) numerous winks to parents, who may recognize parallels between cutting a llama’s hair and caring for a toddler. However, the narrative is too advanced for the typical board-book–age reader. The conflict involves picture day, an occasion that will be unfamiliar to children who do not yet attend school. The ending falls flat, partly because it involves an abstract leap too complex for very young readers.

Overall, a mismatch of story and format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0564-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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