Pete Likes Bunny.
By Emily Arnold McCully. Illus. by the
Oct. 2016. 24p. Holiday, $14.95 (9780823436538);
paper, $6.99 (9780823436873); e-book, $14.95
(9780823437344). PreS–Gr. 2.
In this winsome offering for new readers,
Pete is hopelessly smitten by Bunny, the new
girl in school. He stares at her, dreams about
her, and finally takes action: he sits next to
her on the bus. When their classmates start
chanting “Pete likes Bunny,” Pete is completely
embarrassed and fears Bunny will never like
him. His mother suggests a timeless solution:
take Bunny flowers. Pete follows through, only
to find that Bunny has made him cookies. This
establishes them as a couple, and when the
other kids take up their “Bunny likes Pete, Pete
likes Bunny” refrain, the two don’t mind—
because it’s true. The simple illustrations align
delightfully with the oversize text. Pete, our
protagonist, is a pig, and Bunny is, well, a
bunny. Other classmates include sheep, cats,
dogs, and a mouse. Facial expressions and body
language reflect a typical elementary-school social scene, adding humor and reinforcing the
book’s gentle message about doing your own
thing. This will encourage new readers and be
fun for storytime. —Kathleen McBroom
By Victoria Allenby. Illus. by Tara Anderson.
Nov. 2016. 24p. Pajama, $14.95 (9781927485965).
This romp of a picture book for very young
audiences begs to be read aloud. The plot is
fairly simple: a trio of squabbling rhino siblings can’t quite manage to get ready for bed,
despite poor, exhausted Mama’s best efforts.
Familiar bedtime activities, including finishing
dinner, taking a bath, and brushing teeth involve pushing, bumping, butting, biting—and
Mama’s exasperated interventions. Goodnight
stories and songs calm things down a bit, and
the action ends with a big group hug for Mama
and (almost) everybody falling sound asleep.
The rhyming text incorporates numerous exclamations and sound effects. Adult readers
should be prepared to harrumph, gripe, snipe,
grumble, and roar. The pencil-and-crayon illustrations do an effective job of conveying the
mayhem, and the facial expressions add to the
general hilarity. While this would be a great
choice for library storytime, it’s not really recommended for bedtime—most young readers
will be way too riled up. —Kathleen McBroom
By Nelly Stéphane. Illus. by André
Nov. 2016. 36p. Enchanted Lion, $17.95
(9781592702046). K–Gr. 2.
Punished for being late to school by being
sent to stand in the classroom corner, Roland
amuses himself by drawing a tiger and then
bringing it to life by saying, “Crack!” His
teacher and, later, his mother are not amazed
by Roland’s ability: they view supernatural
events with a mix of irritation and resignation
rather than wonder. Roland mainly works his
magic through drawing, but in one scene, he
turns a fur coat into “many little fur animals,”
which scatter in multiple directions. Since the
coat is gone, Roland is accused of stealing it and
sent to prison. Luckily, one of the fur animals
knows how to open doors and helps Roland
escape. Originally published in 1958 and re-
leased here for the first time, the story reads like
a child recounting a dream, with strange events
in the episodic story line easily accepted as nor-
mal. In thick, black brushstrokes and a limited
palette, François’ illustrations have an undeni-
ably vintage feel. Absurdist and imaginative,
this visually sophisticated but humorous nar-
rative may not appeal to everyone, but it will
delight readers willing to accept its unusual
premise. —Lucinda Whitehurst
They All Saw a Cat.
By Brendan Wenzel. Illus. by the
2016. 44p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9781452150130).
What does saw mean anyway? If you’re
Wenzel, the word is an invitation to explore,
to think, and to “see” in new ways. Here, a repeating refrain with
more than a hint of
nursery rhyme pads
through the book,
right along with
the central character: a cat. “The cat
walked through the
world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws. Yes,
they all saw a cat.” Each page turn reveals how
a series of creatures sees the cat. To the child,
it is big-eyed and adorably fluffy; to the fish
in the bowl, it’s two huge, blurry eyes; and to
the bee, it is a series of faceted dots. To create
these varied visions, Wenzel uses the spacious
width of double-page spreads and a wide range
of materials, including oil, pastels, watercolor,
and pencils. He plays with perspective in other
ways, too. A yellow bird looks down at the cat
below, and a flea peers through a forest of fur.
The result is fascinating, thought-provoking,
and completely absorbing. Rich in discussion
possibilities and curriculum applications, this
is a treasure for classrooms, story hours, and
just plain enjoyment. —Lynn Rutan
What Do You Love about You?
By Karen Lechelt. Illus. by the author.
Dec. 2016. 32p. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781681190938).
Self-esteem is an important concept for
everyone, but especially for young children,
and this picture book promotes the concept
through simple text and minimal illustrations.
The opening page presents a young girl gazing
lovingly at her white pet cat. Once she’s in her
room, we see her cuddling a group of stuffed
animals, all of which will be asked the simple
titular question: What do you love about you?
Kitty’s white outline can be seen sneaking in
and out of every pastel-colored page, whose
colors complement each animal questioned.
Each answer is unique and child-centric: “I
love my ears because your whispers tickle,” “I
love my cheeks because blowing kisses is fun.”
Rounded images and pastel colors add a comforting softness to the book, and many of the
answers are quietly adventurous, suggesting
the possibility of swinging on the moon, dancing in the rain, and even changing the world.
What will young listeners answer? Pair with I
Like Myself! (2004), by Karen Beaumont, for
another celebration of self. —Edie Ching
XO, OX: A Love Story.
By Adam Rex. Illus. by Scott Campbell.
Jan. 2017. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $17.99
(9781626722880). PreS–Gr. 1.
Ox adores Gazelle from afar, and one day
he musters up the courage to tell her in a letter, which he signs, charmingly, “XO, OX.”
Gazelle is a creature with many admirers, so
her response to Ox’s letter is the same as all
the others: a boilerplate letter with a blank
for the recipient’s name, and an autographed
photo. Undeterred, Ox replies, only to receive exactly the same canned letter he got
before. Are his hopes dashed? Nope: “I think
this shows that you are very smart and have
a tidy mind,” he writes. As their back-and-forth continues, Ox becomes more smitten
while Gazelle becomes increasingly frustrated—“Ox! Stop this! Please do not write me
again.” Though some might wonder why
Ox doesn’t get the picture, or why Gazelle
doesn’t simply stop replying, the epistolary
format is appealing, and Campbell’s lively
watercolor illustrations are entertaining,
particularly when depicting the comical contrast between hulking, boxy Ox and lithe,
graceful Gazelle. Kiddos who liked Campbell’s Hug Machine (2014) will get a kick out
of this, too. —Sarah Hunter
You Are Not a Cat!
By Sharon G. Flake. Illus. by Anna Raff.
Oct. 2016. 40p. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (9781590789803).
A silly duck drives an increasingly indignant
cat wild by insisting it’s a cat. The cat tries to
logically prove the duck wrong: “Do you have
a long, straight tail? . . . Whiskers that tickle
the air?” The duck admits it lacks those things,
but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a cat! After all,
yesterday it was a squirrel, last week a rooster,
and tomorrow perhaps a cow. YA author Flake
shows her goofier side in this giggle-inducing
picture book, which works not only for a preschool crowd but also for an emerging reader.
The all-dialogue text is printed in a simple, legible font inside large speech bubbles. Soft colors
and lightly textured backgrounds create plenty
of white space for the eye to focus. The “who’s
on first?” humor, utilizing a large number of
sight words, is heightened by hilarious facial
expressions in the cartoonish illustrations, created using sumi ink washes and pen-and-pencil
drawings and assembled and colored digitally.
Whether enjoyed independently or at storytime, readers will laugh their way through this
entertaining book. —Amy Seto Forrester