Billie's Wild Jungle Adventure

9781610675536. ea vol: illus. by Alisa Coburn. 24p. Kane Miller. Dec. 2016. Tr $10.99.
PreS-Gr 1—Billie is an energetic preschooler who loves to play with her friend Jack. In Wild Jungle, they pretend they are monkeys when they climb up the mulberry tree on the playground. Billie picks fruit and throws it to Jack until "a pink and purple python…winds and wriggles and wraps itself around her." Billie distracts the python with a piece of fruit, and the kids escape on the back of a friendly tiger. They climb and swing down the mulberry tree and go into the school for a fruit snack. In Yummy Bakery, Billie "is feeling growly and grumbly" as she arrives at school and is persuaded to enter the classroom bakery to join Emily, who is not eager to share this space with Billie or Jack. Billie and Jack make "scrumptious button buns," and Emily makes "the most spectacular cake." When Billie and Jack bake "pinkle-dough" muffins in a too-hot oven, the cake explodes into a big mess, which they clean up and transform into a cake for their customers—classroom toys. Billie, Jack, and Emily become increasingly cooperative as the story progresses, and they clean up together before joining the class for snack. Billie's exuberance and creativity, depicted in her frenetic scenes of pretend play, may intimidate some preschoolers and their adults but will give others cause to cheer. Coburn's pen-and-ink and digitally enhanced illustrations use softer, mid-century palettes and patterns that fill the pages with details. Distinctive human, toy, and animal characters are very expressive. Spreads are combined with pages of spot illustration clusters that move the plot forward with dialogue and descriptive text.
VERDICT The smaller trim size and many details make these titles best for lap sharing and will prompt repeated readings. Billie is the character in Rippin's popular beginning-to-read series in Australia, and these selections will appeal to many readers in the United States.

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