"It is a very nice day," said Vernon.
Porcupine agreed. "I do not remember a day as nice as this."
"Except for maybe yesterday," offered Skunk.
Vernon, the thoughtful toad who charmed readers in A Home for Bird, returns with his good friends Skunk and Porcupine. In the first of three stories, Vernon waits for one of the world's slowest forms of transportation (a snail). In the second, the three friends go fishing, but in their own way: "If we see a fish," Porcupine suggests, "maybe we should say hello." In the third, Vernon pines for Bird, and Skunk and Porcupine set out to cheer him up. Stead's expressive, openhearted drawings reveal what Vernon works on when he's not fishing or remembering Bird. Scribbly lines show green leaves hung from old fishing hooks overhead; they're part of Vernon's garden. He creates beauty by foraging for things others have lost or thrown away--red and white fishing bobbers, an old kite. The slow pace, the moments of silence, and the quiet white space in Stead's spreads are an antidote to frenetic busyness. For Vernon, what matters most is kindness, cherishing one's friends, and noticing what other people miss. Ages 4-8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (June)Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 1--Vernon, the bighearted little toad from A Home for Bird, is back in this series of very short tales. As in most of Stead's work, this is a quiet book in which seemingly mundane activities--like waiting, going fishing, or missing a friend--offer young readers a mirror for their big emotions and deep thoughts. Divided into three brief chapters, the book features Vernon and his pals Skunk and Porcupine, as well as a few new friends. In "Waiting," Vernon sits longingly on a shell. What he's waiting for is not clear, but when the shell turns out to be a snail, the toad is "on his way." In "Fishing," Porcupine is anxious because he's never fished before; he doesn't want to ruin his friends' good time. In the end, all turns out well--and, in a laugh-out-loud surprise, "fishing" entails shouting an enthusiastic "HELLO!" at a passing fish. In "Gardening," Vernon is despondent. He hasn't seen his friend Bird in a long time, and sometimes "memories are not so easy to remember." Though Bird does not appear, Porcupine and Skunk work hard to cheer up their pal. Stead's world is filled with characters whose empathy, kindness, and calm resolve make them easy to love. Though the drama is subdued, the interior life of his creatures is rich, and the humor, though subtle, delights. The mixed-media art, with childlike crayon textures and colorful pastel smudges, depicts the characters with soulful expressions and charming vulnerability. VERDICT This heartwarming collection is perfect for one-on-one reading. Share with fans of Laura Vaccaro Seeger's "Bear and Dog" and Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" books.--Kiera Parrott, School Library JournalCopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.