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A little parental TLC finally calms the storm, as it usually does.

A young child presents a catalogue of timeless irritations and injustices in a 1976 outing with art and text lightly massaged and reformatted for newly independent readers.

From “When I do something nice and no one cares…” or “When you get mad at ME and I didn’t do it…” to “When I NEED you and you make me WAIT…” Nina’s complaints range from actual injustice to self-absorbed whining and so have near-universal applicability. Each general grievance is paired to a specific incident detailed in comic-book–style panels on the facing page, such as a painting that distracted parents don’t praise properly, a promise of ice cream that doesn’t pan out, a playmate who abruptly runs off with someone else or clothing that just won’t go on the right way. Fresh and buoyant despite the old-style television or occasional other period detail, Knight’s art places Nina—short haired, dressed in overalls and looking androgynous, in contrast to the girlier figure that Christine Davenier made of her in a 2002 edition (published as That Makes Me Mad)—between siblings in a comfortably domestic setting. He captures her feelings in a broad range of wonderfully expressive body language ranging from hunched-shoulder, irritated frowns to melodramatic sprawls. A posthumous publication for Kroll; Knight is still going strong and working on an autobiography.

A little parental TLC finally calms the storm, as it usually does. (Graphic early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-935179-10-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A hamster with an irritating lack of social skills fails to alienate a cast of small woodland creatures in this strange import. Looking more like an undersized koala in Martin’s simply drawn scenes, Hamster opens with a wish that “in the heavens and on earth [a]ll will praise an extraordinary hamster,” then goes on to explain in his diary how much everyone adores him, to disinvite Rabbit to his birthday party, to blow off a shy confession from Mole and so on—until at the culminating party he takes a bow after belittling everyone’s gifts. Meanwhile, the animals gather to mull such Big Questions as whether worms can shed tears of joy. Within each of her large sequential panels, the illustrator surrounds small figures with generous quantities of flat, uniformly colored green ground and blue sky, punctuated by the occasional tree or shrub. All that wide-open space focuses attention on the dialogue, which sometimes offers insights into the character of each member of the cast but too often falls flat: “Squirrel…a nut. Just one? Hmmm, not so great, so let’s just forget about it.” Yes, let’s. (Graphic picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59270-093-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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The dream phantasms of a high-spirited narrator intersect, even crowd, reality, but the stream-of-consciousness text makes for a rambling, radically personal tale. Playful images of a stuffed lion, trampoline, purple shoes, and a cat named Pine-Cone take hold in a young girl’s imagination, despite her “old” mother who makes her go to bed when she’d rather “stay up early” and a big sister with a cranky disposition. At home, she likes counting flea bites and pretending to be a worm, but is afraid of the dark and going to Grade One. The second half of the book takes off in a separate first-day-of school direction. Wild dreams precede the big day, which includes bullies on the playground and instant friend Chelsea. The childlike articulations of the text are endearing, but not quite of universal interest, and don’t add up to a compelling story; children may more readily warm to Gay’s illustrations, which include a dreamlike flying cat, a menacing hot dog, and an uproarious stuffed toy looming over everyday domestic scenes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-55143-107-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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