Book review: Groundhug Day, by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise

Pace, Anne Marie. Groundhug Day. Illustrated by Christopher Denise. Hyperion, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781484753569. 48 pgs. Ages 5+. P8Q8

Did you ever wonder why his shadow makes Groundhog go back underground? In Groundhug Day we learn that Groundhog doesn’t understand shadows and is afraid of them. Moose and his friends are planning a Valentine’s Day party and are worried that Groundhog won’t be able to attend if he sees his shadow and goes back underground. When they realize that he is afraid, they take him outside to show him the fun and beauty of shadows. The soft, glowing illustrations feel old-fashioned and are really, really lovely. Their softness gives a authentic feeling to the spreads where the animals are playing with their shadows. In the end, Groundhog does go back underground because he’s cold, after receiving many hugs, but comes back out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. I liked that a number of the spring holidays are mentioned (Valentine’s, Groundhog’s, St. Patrick’s, and Easter).

VERDICT: This is a sweet story that celebrates friendship and understanding of others’ points of view. It will be a perfect read-aloud in the spring when kids are looking forward to the upcoming holidays.

June 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: A Squirrelly Situation, by Jacqueline Kelly, illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer

Kelly, Jacqueline. A Squirrelly Situation. (Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series, book 5). Illus. by Jennifer L. Meyer. Holt, 2019. 100p. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-62779-877-8. Ages 8-11. P8Q8

Characters from Kelly’s Newbery Honor Book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and the setting of early 20th century Texas have evolved into an easy series of chapter books in which Callie Vee, who wants to become a veterinarian, typically encounters wounded animals. In this book, her brother brings home an abandoned baby squirrel which is adopted by the family cat. The injury comes when Fluffy the squirrel breaks his tale in a slamming screen door. The book culminates in Emily’s discovery of why a small, lumpy squirrel weighs so much in the community contest to produce the heaviest squirrel.

Verdict: Fluffy’s escapade in the kitchen and the different reactions of family members to the new addition provide the humor in the book, and the black and white drawings enhance the delight of the book. A simple read with some adventure but not a lot of fright.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Lost Sloths, by Graham Annable

Annable, Graham. The Lost Sloths. (Peter and Ernesto, book 2). First Second, 2019. 112p. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-62672-572-0. Ages 4-7. P9Q9

In the sequel to A Tale of Two Sloths, the lovable sloth pair again prove that opposites attract as they search for a new home for themselves and their tribe of five after a hurricane takes their beloved tree. Confident Ernesto and careful Peter lead the group through the jungle and face dangers of snakes, ants, and a jaguar while a rampaging group of peccaries keep charging toward them. Their saving grace is a “great tree” and a new friend, the lonely bird who welcome them and saves them from the hungry jaguar. The last five pages provide illustrated “Fun Facts About Sloths!” divided into a “Real Fact” and a “Peter & Ernesto Fact!”

Verdict: As in the first book, travel and danger form the basis of the story which results in a charming collection of different facial and body expressions. Colorful Photoshop panels highlight the warm story about teamwork, cooperation, and friendship among those with a diversity of personalities and needs. Annable shows the same caring and fondness for his characters that they do for each other.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Wolf Who Solved the Mystery of the Missing Mask, by Orianne Lallemand, illustrated by Claire Frossard, translated by MaryChris Bradley

Lallemand, Orianne. The Wolf Who Solved the Mystery of the Missing Mask. Illus. by Claire Frossard. Trans. by MaryChris Bradley. Auzou, 2019. Unp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-7338-67402-2. Ages 4-7. P8Q8

Quirky bold illustrations begin with a black wolf sporting a huge, long nose who grumpily goes to a museum with his friends because he wants to be with Wolfette. The narrative proceeds with punny artists’ names, beginning with Leonardo da Wolfinci, and Wolf wanders on by himself. A missing tribal mask traumatizes the little guard, Barnabas, and Wolf sets out to uncover the perpetrator, finding more clues and pieces of the museum. The gentle story finishes with the discovery that Wolf’s friend, Miss Yeti, had taken the mask because it looked like her father. All ends happily when Miss Yeti buys a replica of the mask in the gift shop and Wolf falls in love with a painting that looks like his forest.

Verdict: Twists and turns take the reader through a museum, a mystery, and a relationship that ends in pure joy.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: A Surprise for Little Mole, by Orianne Lallemand, illustrated by Claire Frossard, translated by MaryChris Bradley

Lallemand, Orianne. A Surprise for Little Mole. Illus. by Claire Frossard. Trans. by MaryChris Bradley. Auzou, 2019. Unp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-7338-6732-7. Ages 4-7. P8Q8

Watercolors in soft hues provide the background for Little Mole’s discovery of a baby on the doorstep. She feeds the panda-like creature that she calls Who-zit before they set out to find the parents. Each animals’ family sends her on: the rabbits to the bear family, the bears to badgers, and the badger to an owl before a wolf tries to take the baby. The forest families rescue Little Mole and Who-zit, and owl guides them to the zoo. Leaving Who-zit with its parents, Little Mole goes home, lonely, where she discovers that her friends have given her a birthday party.

Verdict: The warm, loving story shows the importance of caring and friendship, and the lovely illustrations highlight the tale.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Rescuing Rialto: A Baby Sea Otter’s Story, by Lynda V. Mapes, photographs by Alan Berner

Mapes, Lynda V. Rescuing Rialto: A Baby Sea Otter’s Story. Photo. By Alan Berner. Roaring Brook, 2019. Unp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-250-14764-6. Ages 7-10. P8Q8

“The baby sea otter was hungry.” That is how Mapes begins her odyssey following the rescue of the infant stranded alone on Rialto Beach in northern Washington. As Mapes chronicles the steps taken to bring Rialto back to health, care for his as he grows, and train him for his future to be with other orphaned baby otters at Vancouver Aquarium, she describes otters’ characteristics, characteristics, and nature. Photographs contribute to the text in their depictions of staff members working with Rialto.

Verdict: Rialto’s story is lively, and the photographs are captivating. An advantage of the book is the use of photographs instead of illustrations that give a sense of reality to Rialto and his needs that creates empathy for this endangered species.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Hello, I’m Here!, by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Frost, Helen and Rick Lieder. Hello, I’m Here! Candlewick, 2019. $16.99. unp. ISBN: 978-0-736-9858-4. Ages 2-4. P8Q8

Minimal text and close-up photographs chronicle the early life of a sandhill crane chick from the time it pecks out of its shell to learning to walk and desire to fly. Mama feeds the chick the delicacy of a snail and provides a safe place with her wings for the chick to sleep. A short note at the end gives more information about raising sandhill crane chicks and their predators.

Verdict: Gorgeous photography and a simple narrative makes this an excellent goodnight book for little ones.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.