Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's a big world, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Poppy has worked hard at her ice skating and is excited when she gets a chance to go to the World Games. She's a little scared too, but her family reminds her to follow her dreams and her best friend tells her "everyone smiles in the same language."

She finds out it's true when she gets to the World Athlete Village and meets a friendly panda snowboarder from China, a fluffy dog skier from Italy, an ice skating stork from Japan, and a nervous kangaroo speed skater from Australia. Each one of her new friends has something in common with her, whether it's music, food, or family. In the end, Poppy has a wonderful time, skates her best, and even gets to experience some of Paris.

Although peppered a bit strongly with exclamation points and, of course, containing a rather sappy moral, the text is better than most celebrity picture books and doesn't belabor the didacticism too strongly. There are fun references to culture and the Olympics, changed just enough to make a guessing game, "Poochini" instead of Puccini, for example. I find the non-competitiveness and friendliness of all the athletes a little difficult to believe, but this rose-tinted world of friendship and self-esteem will be satisfying to most parents and children.

The pictures are the best part of the book, with dazzling colors, a delightfully plump Poppy, and swirls of movement following the various animals on the ice. Bowers' world is a cheerful place with a wide variety of smiling, round-eyed animals and plenty of sparkle, both on the costumes and in the backgrounds.

Verdict: While this book probably won't go down as a classic, it has more staying power than most celebrity picture books and will delight small fans of ice skating and those who like colorful pictures with animals. It's a little long for storytime, but parents and children will enjoy it together. An additional purchase, especially recommended if you have ice skating fans.

ISBN: 9781402266447; Published March 2012 by Sourcebooks; Review copy provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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