Parents: Beware what happens behind your child’s closed door when you pronounce: “Go to your room!” (Picture book. 6-9)

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE SENT TO YOUR ROOM

This may be one of those books parents don’t want their children to read—of course, the prohibited is all the more attractive.

Ben is no stranger to spending some time alone in his room: He gets sent there. A lot. Therefore, he has some tips to pass along to readers. First, get the apology out of the way early to avoid further punishment. Next, raid the hiding places where you’ve stashed food. (What?! You mean you don’t have any? Drop this right now and go find some!) To while away the time, Ben makes some tough decisions (regarding his birthday wish list), redecorates his room (tape and magazine cutouts are involved!) and plays with his pets. Sorting baseball cards, organizing collections and making faces at his big brother are also great activities. And since Ben shares a room with said brother, he can usually count on his time being shortened, as his “mom never leaves us alone together in our room.” A page turn shows why. Hand-drawn and digitally colored illustrations bring Ben to life for readers: the gleam in his eye, his mischievous grin, his imagination, his deadpan manner, the false emotions he puts on to apologize. But by the end, readers may be wondering whether Ben purposefully gets sent to time out—it seems to be that much fun.

Parents: Beware what happens behind your child’s closed door when you pronounce: “Go to your room!” (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6052-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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