Publisher's Weekly Book Reviews

Publisher's Weekly Starred Books

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Pearl Goes to Preschool
Written & illustrated by Julie Fortenberry
In this winsome, taut story, a timid child warms to the idea of preschool with her mother’s tactical nudging and her own ingenuity.
Jun 15, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Pearl loves to dance! But will she love preschool, too?
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Dozens of Doughnuts
Written by Carrie Finison & illustrated by Brianne Farley
...The combination of delicious treats and tantalizing delay keeps the tension high, and the cooperative kitchen antics of LouAnn’s guests...deliver as much satisfaction as the new doughnuts themselves.
May 18, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A generous but increasingly put-upon bear makes batch after batch of doughnuts for her woodland friends without saving any for herself in this delightful debut picture book about counting, sharing, and being a good friend.

LouAnn (a bear) is making a doughnut feast in preparation for her long winter’s nap. But just before she takes the first bite, DING DONG! Her friend Woodrow (a woodchuck) drops by. LouAnn is happy to share her doughnuts, but as soon as she and Woodrow sit down to eat, DING DING! Clyde (a raccoon) is at the door. One by one, LouAnn’s friends come over–Topsy (an opossum) and then Moufette (a skunk) and then Chip and Chomp (chipmunks)–until it’s one big party. Louann welcomes her surprise guests and makes batch after batch of doughnuts, always dividing them equally among her friends. But she makes one BIG miscalculation. Soon LouAnn’s kitchen is bare, winter is near, and she’s had nothing to eat at all!

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Sloth Went
Written by Adam Lehrhaupt & illustrated by Benson Shum
“Good humored but never at the expense of empathy. Families facing similar toilet trepidation will find plenty of sympathy and wisdom in these pages.”
May 13, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

This hilarious picture book is about a sloth on the go. A sloth who is . . . very slowly . . . making his way to a major milestone: potty training!

Today is Sloth’s big day. He’s excited. But he’s also nervous.

What if something happens? What if NOTHING happens?

Sloth Went is a book about poop. But it’s also an adventure story about facing your fears, gaining independence, and learning to do what you have to. Even if, as in Sloth’s case, it takes a little while to get there.

Also included: back matter with the amazing true story of how sloths poop!

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Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell
Written & illustrated by Selina Alko
"Layered mixed-media collages featuring cut paper, found images, and colorful smears of paint effectively evoke the richly rendered emotional landscapes of Mitchell’s songwriting."
Feb 25, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Colors burst across each page, with layers of collage-work emphasizing the richness of Mitchell’s influences and imagination. Will speak to readers just starting their own exploration of artistic expression.” —Booklist (starred review)

Celebrate the captivating life of Joni Mitchell, the world-famous songbird who used her music to ignite and inspire an entire generation, in this stunning picture book biography from award-winning author and illustrator Selina Alko.

Joni Mitchell painted with words.

Sitting at her piano or strumming the guitar, she turned the words into songs.

The songs were like brushstrokes on a canvas, saying things that were not only happy or sad but true.

But before composing more than two hundred songs, Joni was a young girl from a town on the Canadian prairie, where she learned to love dancing, painting, birdsong, and piano. As she grew up into an artist, Joni took her strong feelings—feelings of love and frustration, and the turbulence that came with being a young woman—and wrote them into vivid songs.

Brought to life by Selina Alko’s rainbow collages and lyrical language, this heartfelt portrait of a feminist and folk icon is perfect for parents, children, and music lovers everywhere.

Back matter includes a letter from the author and Joni’s full discography.

“An inspired and creative ode to the inimitable Joni Mitchell.” —Kirkus

“Layered mixed-media collages featuring cut paper, found images, and colorful smears of paint effectively evoke the richly rendered emotional landscapes of Mitchell’s songwriting.” —Publishers Weekly

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Pitter Pattern
Written & illustrated by Joyce Hesselberth
"A concise concluding explanation of repeating and growing patterns may well encourage curious kids to flip back to the start and identify samples of each . . ."
Feb 11, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Patterns are everywhere! How many can you find?

This gorgeously illustrated book from Joyce Hesselberth, the creator of the acclaimed Mapping Sam, expertly introduces readers to basic patterns in nature, music, sports, art, language, and math. Pitter Pattern is an exceptional mix of fiction and nonfiction perfect for home as well as classroom sharing.

Pitter, pitter, pat! Pitter, pitter, pat! Hey, it’s a pitter, pitter, pattern!

Lu and her friends love spotting patterns in their daily activities. Lu learns that patterns can be found at soccer practice, during her piano lessons, in dance class, at snack time, and even at the park! How many patterns can you spot as Lu goes about her week?

Patterns are an important building block of preschool and early elementary education, and Pitter Pattern includes examples of patterns found in music, weather, time, play, shapes, nature, math, and language. The accessible and playful illustrations feature additional patterns for engaged readers to discover. An expert blend of fiction and nonfiction, this beautiful and innovative character-driven picture book is an ideal read-aloud for classrooms, family story times, and for fans of Hervé Tullet, Lois Ehlert, Steve Jenkins, and Joyce Sidman. Includes backmatter about the patterns in the book.

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Sunny
Written & illustrated by Celia Krampien
"A whimsical take on the upside of a rainy day—and a sanguine attitude."
Feb 11, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Most people would say there is nothing good about trudging to school on a rainy day.

Most people would say that being carried away by the wind and dropped into the middle of a tumultuous sea is a very bad sort of situation.

No, most people wouldn’t like that at all.

But Sunny isn’t most people. Sunny likes to look on the bright side. And when things get exceedingly bleak?

Well, isn’t that what friends are for?

From debut author/artist Celia Krampien comes an unforgettable, transcendent story about the true power of optimism.

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The Bold, Brave Bunny
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Chow Hon Lam
"With his new sense of independence comes a realization that a loving home, however tight the quarters, isn’t so bad after all . . ."
Feb 11, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 44-8

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“An enjoyable tale of the marvels of adventuring and the comfort of home.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Hop along with Teetu, the bold, brave bunny, as he finds his way in this imaginative tale from New York Times bestselling author Beth Ferry (Stick and Stone) that reminds us that it’s splendid to see the world, but that it’s even more wonderful to go home, and share it with the ones you love.

B is for brave.

B is for bold.

B is not only for…bunnies.

After his brothers and sisters ruin his favorite alphabet book, Teetu the bunny has had enough of his big bunny family! When he sneaks off into the night, what he discovers is more marvelous than he ever dreamed.

He sees animals and trees and beauty and moonlight, and puts his adventures into a new book he creates all by himself. But soon Teetu tires of being alone, and just as it gets to be too much…a big fluffy surprise comes to save the day!

This heartwarming picture book from Beth Ferry and debut illustrator Chow Hon Lam makes for a perfect Easter and year-round gift. Plus, hidden animal surprises in the art will delight readers as they discover them in every repeat reading.

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Bo the Brave
Written & illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
"Working in gouache, Woollvin (Little Red) relies on a palette of pink, teal, gray, and orange to create a setting both modern and medieval."
Feb 6, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A feisty little girl learns who the real monsters are in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure.

Once, there lived a little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster. Bo is small, too small to catch a monster―or so her brothers say. But Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or has Bo got the wrong idea who the real monsters are?

Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, employs her signature style in this original fairy tale with a clever twist. Readers are sure to fall in love with Woollvin’s newest vibrant and sassy protagonist.

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Snail Crossing
Written & illustrated by Corey R. Tabor
"The author handles the tricky themes of kindness and forgiveness with the lightest of touches . . ."
Feb 4, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a book that is as cheerful and charming as Snail himself, Corey Tabor tells a winning tale of slow but steady Snail, whose determination and kindness bring him the best reward of all: friendship.

When Snail spies a plump, crisp cabbage across the road, nothing will stop him—not a speeding car or even a hungry crow.

But then kindhearted Snail stops to help a crew of antsy ants in a rainstorm, and he loses his way. It looks like he will never get his treat—until Snail’s new friends come up with an ingenious idea. . . .

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Agent Lion
Written by Jacky Davis and David Soman & illustrated by David Soman
"Clear panel artwork provides plenty of comic contradiction as Agent Lion heads over to Ms. Flamingo’s apartment building . . ."
Feb 4, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the New York Times bestselling creators of Ladybug Girl, meet Agent Lion: a charmingly oblivious yet always-on-time detective!

MS. FLAMINGO’S CAT, FLUFFY, IS MISSING…and there’s only one detective who can crack the case!

Meet Agent Lion—he works at Super Detective Agents Agency, wears a tiny blue hat, and loves jelly doughnuts. But most importantly, he is determined to find Fluffy.

Agent Lion searches all over Mrs. Flamingo’s building—from Mr. Wombat’s apartment to the top of the roof—and the missing cat is nowhere to be found. Will Agent Lion ever crack the case?

In an upside-down mystery filled with laugh-out-loud moments, twists and turns, and more zany animals than one can count, David Soman and Jacky Davis have crafted the perfect picture book for curious minds who enjoy a good detective tale.

Agent Lion is sure not only to make readers giggle but to prove that anything is possible with a bit of determination and wit, and a few jelly doughnut breaks.

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