PUBLISHERS WEEKLY 28
hopeful that they themselves will not be
forgotten long. The toys in the yard peek
in from the margins of Grey’s comics-in-fluenced pages, offering their opinionated
commentary on the WonderDoll’s storytelling (the effect is akin to a particularly
boisterous preschool story hour), even influencing the direction the tale takes. As
in her Traction Man books, Grey plumbs
the pathos and humor of carelessly treated
playthings. Her double narratives hint at
toys’ secret lives and the desire, after adventuring, to feel safe—impulses children will easily recognize in themselves.
Masayuki Sebe. Kids Can, $16.95 ISBN
In this exuberant companion to Let’s
Count to 100!, Sebe again offers hundreds
of impish animals to count and pore over.
At the head of the eponymous parade are
100 bears, who snake their way across
three spreads; seek-and-find prompts
(“Where is the four-leaf clover?” “There’s
a rabbit here somewhere...”) encourage ac-
tive participation, and every 10th animal
is labeled in case readers lose track. The
bears are followed by 100 “piggy chefs,”
carpenter beetles, a “rabbit circus,” and
more, giving this parade a true “anything
can happen” feeling. Readers will have a
sense of accomplishment after adding up
the numbers on each page, perhaps even
forgetting that there’s math underlying
all the fun. Ages 3–7.
Katie Viggers. powerHouse/POW!,
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-57687-643-5
Self-published in the author’s native
Great Britain in 2010, this A to Z bestiary enchants with expressive, painterly
monoprints that either retain their char-coal-like quality or are digitally colorized.
The visual diversity extends to the level of
realism on each spread: a male-female pair
of quails is encyclopedia-ready, while a
hammerhead shark wears a tool belt. Vig-
gers depicts several animals solo—e.g. the
gorilla, koala, and tarsier—in arch, close-
up portraits that convey a rich sense of
each creature’s personality. Subtle humor
and informative tidbits animate the text:
B stands not just for bears, but for all
eight species of them, from sun to panda
(the latter munches on alphabetically con-
venient bamboo). Seven types of penguins
are identified by name and form a courtly
tableau, with the Fjordland penguin
shading the king penguin with a parasol,
while an Adélie solicits an autograph and
the Galapagos snaps a paparazzo photo.
So, why the “almost” of the title? It
might have something to do with those
“nighttime,” “underground,” and “yeti”
spreads, each of which is integrated seam-
lessly. Ages 3–7.
Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Roaring Brook/
Porter, $16.99 ISBN 978-1-59643-
animals to tell
her story about
bullying, casting a bull in the
title role. The
trouble starts when the young bull is rejected by an older one: “Go away!” it
shouts. The young bull is shaken, but he’s
learned something—how to hurt others.
When a rabbit, chicken, and turtle in the
barnyard ask him to play, he grumps
“No,” then hurls insults at them, names
that are no more than the literal truth.
“Chicken!” he yells at the chicken, who
jumps in the air. “Slowpoke!” he shouts at
the turtle. “You stink!” he screams at a
skunk. The more he abuses the others, the
larger he grows, his angry bluster feeding
his self-importance. At last a goat speaks
truth to power: “Bully!” the goat cries.
“Bully?” the bull repeats to himself. All
the inflated air blows out of him, and he
tosses and tumbles across a spread like a
balloon let loose. Tearfully, he makes
peace. Seeger’s pages pop with action, and
the lesson couldn’t be clearer. Ages 3–7.
The First Drawing
Mordicai Gerstein. Little, Brown, $17
In this playful account, Caldecott Med-
children’s starred reviews 2013 PICTURE BOOKS ★
LAURA VACCARO SEEGER
Where did the idea for Bully come from?
When I first thought of the idea, I thought maybe
I had no business talking about this very big
topic. But as an author I don’t think you need to
be an expert on a topic, but just need to express
your thoughts on it. I wasn’t bullied, but was always sensitive to the feelings of those who were.
I’d always befriend them to help make up for it.
And in this book, I wanted to include both sides.
While there is no excuse for bullying, most of the
time there is an explanation. I believe you can
understand the reason, even if you can’t change
the bully from behaving like that. That’s what I
tried to do in this book.
This is clearly a topical book. Would you say
that in that way, this is a departure for you?
It actually doesn’t feel like a departure to me. The book makes a very definite point, whereas the environmental aspects of Green are more subtle. But
I feel that each of my books is conceptual. Even the Dog and Bear books,
which are about friendship, feel conceptual to me. —Sally Lodge
■ For the complete interview, go to www.publishersweekly.com/seegerqa