With its appealing pictures and smooth rhymes, this book makes an excellent choice for a scary story read-aloud.

DON'T EVER LOOK BEHIND DOOR 32

A couple of dark-haired, big-eyed siblings explore the rooms of a monster-filled hotel with the warning to never look behind door 32.

In this Halloween picture book from the team of Fegan and Wen (Titch the Itch, 2017, etc.), the proprietor, Nicholas Noo, greets two pale-skinned children who are the first (human) guests at the Hotel of Hoo. But their stay in room No. 1 comes with the caveat about door 32. The kids proceed to examine each room, counting up to 32, meeting such creatures as grounds-cleaning clowns, light bulb–changing knights, dancing zombies, purple goblins, mad scientists, “miniature giants,” vampire mermaids, and the rest. The children’s facial expressions in Wen’s illustrations are priceless: The brother is clearly more reticent than his perpetually amused younger sister, who shows no fear of kitchen ghosts or old trolls. In several images, the brother pushes or pulls her past particularly troublesome rooms, including one reserved for visitors, and a daunting maze. What is behind door 32? The answer isn’t what readers will expect, and the finale of the charmingly rhymed book has a pleasing twist designed to make kids chuckle with relief that nothing really terrible is lurking. While the tale offers plenty of creepy-crawlies and spooky hazards for monster lovers, there are also delightfully cute dragons, a fantastic library, and adorable baby wizards for readers who prefer their Halloweens less frightening.

With its appealing pictures and smooth rhymes, this book makes an excellent choice for a scary story read-aloud.

Pub Date: March 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-648-10190-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: TaleBlade

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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