Too dense and erratic for children, and too adolescent for adults.

READ REVIEW

THE VERY LITTLEST DRAGON

Charlton’s debut is a fanciful tale of dragons, picture framing and princesses.

The novel begins promisingly: dragon parents, both employed at a framing shop run by a grizzly bear, await the hatching of their first clutch of eggs. Boomer, the first hatchling to emerge, flies faster than the speed of sound, while second-born Tink is so tiny that he fits in a coffee cup—one of the places he feels safest. Among the novel’s assets are utterly charming illustrations by Laura Reynolds and some lovely insights skillfully expressed (“seen from high altitude across large flat oceans and vast deserts, it is easy to understand why dawn is called a ‘crack,’ for it certainly splits the dark in two”). But the novel has two insurmountable weaknesses: The plot is thin to begin with (late in the story, for reasons not entirely clear, Tink faces a vague challenge friends and family help him prepare for) and the story is too cluttered for the novel to have the necessary dramatic tension. An overabundance of superfluous characters (including one who speaks in misspelled French, saying not mon dieu, but mon due or mon deu) appear only once or twice; although occasionally charming, they stall the story and make it difficult to remember the main characters. Long accounts of meals and the foods and beverages consumed at them (fish balls with various sauces, biscuits, chocolate, lots of coffee) grow tedious due to their frequency, length and ultimate irrelevance. Most damaging, the novel’s climax is repeatedly interrupted with cuts to quiet conversations and domestic scenes short on tension, fizzling away the power of Tink’s struggle and triumph. It’s a pity, because if focused, sharpened and streamlined, this could be a tight page turner sure to delight the young readers who should be its primary audience.

Too dense and erratic for children, and too adolescent for adults.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0984966608

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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