A solid choice to address fears.

READ REVIEW

MY MONSTER FRIENDS AND ME

A BIG KID'S GUIDE TO THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

A child invites readers to uncover common childhood fears and describes how to transform monsters to friends.

An 8-year-old kid shares experiences with monsters and fears—and the secret to handling them: Naming each monster makes the fear go away. The first sharp-toothed monster lives on the other side of a picket fence. It turns out the first monster’s name is Kate and is actually a sweet dog. The protagonist continues through the house addressing other monsters, or common childhood fears, including shadows, the dark, thunder and lightning, and, of course, the monster under the bed. Each fear is first illustrated and described with its own dark, frightening monster personality, but with a flip of the page it is transformed into a bright, cheery version of what it really is. This is a great way to start talking to young children about their fears and the monsters they become in their imaginations. In rhyming verse, Sarac encourages children to take control of their fears by giving them names and reimagining them as friends, not foes. Some of the verses do not flow smoothly, but they still get the message across. The illustrations combine bold colors, geometrical shapes, and lots of textures and patterns that really emphasize the darkness of fears—and the light of reimagining them. The bespectacled protagonist has pale skin and wavy black hair.

A solid choice to address fears. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9367-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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