A clever and heartwarming tale starring a grouchy hero.

GRUMBLER

A grumpy, Grinch-like creature discovers that the love he tries to get rid of keeps coming back in this picture book.

Grumbler, a potato-shaped figure with a broken, polka-dot pot for a cap, lives alone in the dump. In a crabby mood, he kicks a can of tuna—right into the paws of a hungry cat. When the feline thanks him, a heart shape extends from her chest in wonderfully cartoonish fashion. A flying heart floats over to Grumbler. Irritated by the itchy love, Grumbler tries to give the heart to two squirrels. But the love multiplies and returns. Grumbler attempts to give the love to some bunnies and then to a whole pond of creatures. Grumbler thinks he’s finally escaped and returns to the dump. But when he sees that love has brought all the animals to visit him, he realizes maybe it isn’t so bad after all. Haughee (How I Met My Other, 2019, etc.) handles the story’s message with just the right amount of cranky humor to keep it from becoming too sweet. The vocabulary challenges are all fun-to-pronounce words that young readers will enjoy, and Veselinovic’s (Where Will You Go, Ricky Jo?, 2018, etc.) charming, kid-friendly digital illustrations, populated with affable forest denizens, should be a hit. Grumbler’s heart may not grow three sizes, but he’ll keep the Grinch in good company.

A clever and heartwarming tale starring a grouchy hero.

Pub Date: March 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949935-03-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orange Blossom Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more