BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER

An exasperated big sister learns to love her little monster of a sibling by finding her own inner monster.

Lucy has had it with her little sister’s behavior. Mia, who like Lucy is white, always seems underfoot and over-the-top. When Lucy finally loses her temper and calls Mia a “little monster,” Mia disappears. Mia’s reaction to her sister’s rejection isn’t depicted, but at first, Lucy is clearly delighted and revels in time to herself. But a shift in palette from bright to dull, as well as in the tone of the text, signals Lucy’s quick change of heart: “after a while, it felt quiet. Very quiet. TOO QUIET. No one followed Lucy’s lead.” So Lucy sets out to find Mia and discovers a secret doorway in her little sister’s room that leads to a land of monsters. Fotheringham’s style shifts from something akin to Jules Feiffer’s to something more like Ed Emberley’s here, with brightly colored, cartoonish, goggly-eyed monsters cavorting with Mia against a black background. Mia seems perfectly content, and not only do the monsters reject Lucy’s attempts to wrest Mia away, they reject her, too: “ ‘YOU’RE NOT A LITTLE MONSTER,’ they howled. ‘GO AWAY!’ ” But Lucy stands firm and liberates her inner monster with a fit of rage that sends the monsters scurrying away. Mia happily rejoins her in the real world, where their rivalry gives way to sisterly revelry.

Monstrous sisterly fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-83192-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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