If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam.


From the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series

This entry in the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase, which publishes the books of Disney animators, is about a tea-loving, raspberry-eating bibliophile hedgehog.

Malina is shy and spends more time with her raspberry patch and books than with other creatures. Having built herself an impressive collection of preserved raspberry jam, she learns that her neighbors want to try some and ends up giving it all away. Her new friends return the favor by giving her some of their own favorite snacks as well as by helping her grow more raspberries, thereby replenishing her favorite treat and forging new friendships. Though the story concept and illustrations come from a Disney animator, the text comes from co-author Sauer, who uses simple sentences and repetition to build a tightly constructed story. There’s an overt sweetness to the illustrations, with the kind of bright-eyed, curly-lashed characters one sees in animated Disney films. Malina is an endearing character, though there’s not much else about this story and its execution that distinguishes it from other picture books about friendship and generosity. Disney fans may be interested in seeing an animator switch forms. Appended is a note from the illustrator about her background in animation and why she was happy to try her hand at a picture book. Also appended is a jam recipe—with a reminder to share.

If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02458-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet