Ai ya—not the happiest New Year tale.

THE NIAN MONSTER

A little girl in Shanghai outwits a Lunar New Year monster.

Xingling is grocery shopping with her grandmother days before the Chinese New Year festivities are to begin. Curious about all the red decorations, she learns that once upon a time there was a very hungry monster who threatened villages. The monster, fortunately, had three fears—“loud sounds, fire, and the color red”—and the Chinese learned how to keep safe from it. Unfortunately, the monster, named Nian, soon appears in Shanghai very hungry and very unperturbed by ancient customs. Xingling cleverly finds three new, traditional means to defeat Nian: a bowl containing “the longest noodle in China” (which sends him snoozing), bony milkfish (which hurts his throat), and a rice cake made with very sticky rice (which glues his jaws together). Wang brings together traditional storytelling elements in her tale—three tasks and repetition of phrases—in this contemporary setting of a Chinese New Year story. However, the writing is pedestrian and will not hold up to multiple readings. The explanation that “nian” means either “year” or “sticky” comes only in the author’s note. Chau’s artwork is colorful but very busy; Xingling is drawn with giant, manga-style eyes, though the other Chinese characters have simple ink-dot eyes. Also, there is no mention of which year of the 12-year cycle is being celebrated.

Ai ya—not the happiest New Year tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5642-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Proving even pooped piggies are ready to party, this will make children want to join in.

PIG HAS A PLAN

From the I Like To Read series

A noisy barnyard is no place for a nap!

Poor pig, all he wants to do is take a short snooze. However, there seems to be something going on around him. Each of his farm friends is making noise of one kind or another. “Hen wants to saw.” “Dog wants to tap.” “Hog wants to hum.” Pig looks closer and closer to fainting from exhaustion until he spies some drinking straws and has an idea. He sinks himself in his mud puddle and breathes through a straw snorkel. He’s finally able to catch some Z’s…but all those barnyard noises had a purpose: prep for a piggy birthday celebration. So much for napping! Long’s entry in the I Like to Read series tells its simple tale in 47 words, nearly all of which are of the single-syllable, easy-to-sound-out variety. Bright pastel-and-primary full-bleed illustrations featuring big-eyed farm folk will keep eyes on the page during storytime or guided independent reading. The visual humor and the easy-reading text make this a winner for readers just starting out.

Proving even pooped piggies are ready to party, this will make children want to join in. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2428-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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