ALIEN & POSSUM

HANGING OUT

Possum and Alien are good friends who first met in Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What (2001). Here, they play together and help each other understand their place in the world. In the first of three stories, Alien bemoans the fact that he is different from all the other living things in the forest, while Possum complains that he is merely one of “skadillions” of possums. They reassure each other that they are both unique and wonderful. The second tale is about a delightful, fun-filled birthday party. The last, reminiscent of Stellaluna (1993), shows our heroes sharing the joys of perching on a tree branch, each in his own special way. The plots are gentle expressions of friendship and acceptance. Johnston’s language is simple and straightforward, as befitting the easy-to-read format, but she does not sacrifice imagination or imagery. Repetition of words and phrases and generous use of contextual clues provide aid and comfort to emergent readers. However, an oversight in the layout might cause some confusion: a table of contents lists page numbers for the beginning of each story, but there are no corresponding numbers on those pages. DiTerlizzi’s cheerful, cartoonlike illustrations nicely complement and enhance the slight stories with a spirit of fun. Possum has a slightly goofy demeanor and Alien is very egg-like and even resembles Humpty Dumpty. A likable duo and an enjoyable romp for beginning readers who will be looking for the next installment. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83836-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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