Kevin White, illus. by Rex White. Chimeric
Press ( www.chimericpress.com), $15.95
(32p) ISBN 978-0-9847122-3-6
Snappy text and clean artwork pull equal
weight in this collaboration by brothers.
It’s a classic chase story—and each time
it seems to be over, another obstacle
appears—but its execution is smooth.
Determined to have a “watermelon feast,”
Duck pries open a crate of watermelons in
a field and sprints after two that roll away.
One by one, four more animals join in the
chase, lured by Duck’s offer, “If you help,
you can have some too.” When the fruit
bounces onto a passing train, the animals
jump onto a handcar in hot pursuit, using
other vehicles to do the same when the
watermelons subsequently tumble onto a
boat, truck, and plane. The excitement of
the chase is somewhat subdued by the fact
that there are only two runaway melons
involved—it’s not much to chase after,
and not much of a feast. But Rex White’s
animals, with their swoopy black outlines
and expressive reactions, are an active and
charming bunch to follow, and the narrative’s lively repetition encourages reader
participation. Ages 3–6.
Bobby’s Biggest Bubble!:
A Really Big Tale
Jim Romer. ARRRGGGHHH! Ink Publishing
( www.arrrggghhh.com), $15 (36p) ISBN 978-0-
Romer—who has worked as a cartoonist, animator, and toy designer—brings a
sense of playfulness to his debut children’s
book, funded through Kickstarter. After
Bobby wins a contest and receives one
million gumballs, the boy finds an array
of uses for them, including shaping animals from chewed gum, bouncing on a
“gummy trampoline,” and strapping gum
onto his shoes to walk up the side of a tree.
Bobby then decides to blow the “biggest
bubblegum bubble in the world,” and as
the bubble grows, it takes up more and
more real estate in Romer’s spreads. The
enormous bubble turns out to be more
than just a neighborhood nuisance, though,
when it saves the town from an impending
meteor strike. Romer’s illustrations have a
chunky, appealing quality and a classic TV
cartoon vibe (Bobby calls to mind a young,
modern-day Barney Rubble). While the
story’s wordiness slows its pace and mutes
some of its humor, readers should still
giggle over Bobby’s over-the-top, candy-
fueled antics. Ages 3–8.
★ Wisdom, the Midway
Albatross: Surviving the Japanese
Tsunami and Other Disasters for
Over 60 Years
Darcy Pattison, illus. by Kitty Harvill. Mims
House ( www.darcypattison.com), $11.99
paper (32p) ISBN 978-0-9798621-7-5
Pattison (Prairie Storms) offers a remarkable survival story about Wisdom, a female Laysan Albatross first tagged by scientists in 1956 and still alive today, having
lived through multiple tsunamis, other
natural disasters, and manmade threats to
the well-being of her species. Born on
Midway Atoll, the bird (who wouldn’t receive the name Wisdom until she was rediscovered in 2002 by the scientist who
originally tagged her) spends years at sea,
feasting on squid, avoiding sharks, and
producing chicks year after year (“By the
time she was twenty,” writes Pattison, “she
had outlived eighty-seven percent of her
rookery mates”). Harvill (Up, Up. Up! It’s
Apple-Picking Time) contributes carefully
detailed and naturalistic illustrations,
portraying both the beauty and danger of
Wisdom’s aquatic environment (discarded
plastic and the 2011 Japanese earthquake
and tsunami are among the hazards
Wisdom manages to escape). While the
heavy font used for the text is at times intrusive, Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a
wealth of information and resources for
readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses. Ages 6–12.
Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale
Linda Mason Hunter and Suzanne
Summersgill, illus. by Summersgill.
HunterInk@PinnStudio ( www.threegreenrats.
com), $18 paper (112p) ISBN
This first book in a
planned series is a lighthearted fable with
an unmissable environmental message.
The Green brothers live a sustainable life-style in Tintown, “a dirty, noisy place”
where freeways and parking lots have
obliterated rivers and streams. The three
rats make (rather than buy) what they
need, grow their own food, reuse their
bathwater, and have a composting toilet.
They’re cheerful, unlike the town’s other
residents, who are “perpetually dissatisfied,” despite all the gadgets they own.
Leading the consumer pack is wealthy
Ethel Misrington, who despises the
Greens and vows to make them “an offer
they can’t reuse!” When she enlists the
mayor to evict the Greens to make way
for a big box store, they contest the plan
and, in a humorous sequence poking fun
at bureaucratic ineptitude, are shunted
from one town office to another. The
brothers get a chance to save the day,
though, leading to rapid environmental
conversions across town. Summersgill’s
stylized line drawings give Tintown’s fairly one-note residents quirky personality,
and the story’s levity keeps it from being
too moralistic. Ages 7–11.
Ari Magnusson. Olivander Press, $9.99 paper
(240p) ISBN 978-0-9848610-5-7
First-time author Magnusson delivers a
welcome, though somewhat heavy-handed message about handling bullies in this
fast-paced adventure. It starts when sixth-grader Stewart is forced to run and hide
from the older children tormenting him.
He is mysteriously transported to Bitopia,
an idyllic world inhabited by other children who also arrived while fleeing bullies. However, the world is spoiled by the
Venators, terrifying predators who stalk
the children and force them to seek refuge
in a heavily protected city at all times.
When the Venators launch an all-out assault on the refuge, it’s up to Stewart and
his new friend Cora to discover the secret
of defeating the Venators once and for all.
While Magnusson’s writing is solid and
the story engaging, with a sincere element of tension and an overall sense of
wonder, the underlying moral—stand up