cover image The Biggest Kiss

The Biggest Kiss

Joanna Walsh, illus. by Judi Abbot. S&S/Wiseman, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2769-3

A penguin tours the animal kingdom to see how kissing stacks up among different species. Newcomer Abbot’s characters are essentially adorable variations on rounded and curvilinear shapes, ranging from pert to plump. She laughs in the face of zoological accuracy, anthropomorphizing with abandon: in the spread, “Frogs like to kiss, and dogs like to kiss,” she imagines a kissing booth run by a frog prince, as pups of various breeds line up to pay $1 for the privilege. The titular kiss does not belong to the big blue elephant that sprawls across another spread, extending its trunk to a mostly unseen partner (while providing a perch for two kissing ants). Rather, it’s the kiss that comes from a grownup penguin, who clearly loves a cuddle as much as the narrator does. Walsh’s (All Asleep) rhyme schemes are all over the map (there are conventional couplets, as well as internal rhymes like “The snow’s kiss on your face is ace”), so it may be difficult for readers to get in a groove. But it hardly detracts from the upbeat subject matter and the critters’ utter cuteness. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)