A skillful fairy tale about a hero and the flower seller he loves, though it’s hampered by an outdated literary device.



A clumsy young inventor must complete a task for a grumpy monster to win a girl’s heart in this illustrated, rhyming debut book.

In the Forest of Ho, near the Village of Hay, there’s a creature called the Grumpface, known for capturing innocent travelers and only freeing them if they can fulfill one of his three tasks. Once a cranky old man, the Grumpface was cursed by a wizard to spread his grouchiness because he could never smile. In the Village of Hay, Dafty Dan, an inventor whose contraptions never quite work, loves a flower seller named Bella. Too afraid to talk to her, he hatches a plan to find her a rose—the one flower she can’t track down for her store. This takes him to the Forest of Ho, where he is caught by the Grumpface, who is determined to show Dan that life is miserable. With Dan’s unrequited love in his heart, he insists he will accomplish one of the tasks. But his inventions ultimately fail to help him, including his “launcher.” The bird he was supposed to snare swallows his lamp. His sticky shoes adhere to a log bridge, but his loud singing causes a mishap. His light rod actually works—until he drops it and loses the object of his quest in a dark cave. Luckily for Dan, his antics make the Grumpface laugh, breaking the curse and setting the old man—and all the villagers he’s trapped—free. The old man even shows Dan where to find a rose, allowing him to gain the affections of his crush. All of Dan’s interactions with the Grumpface are delightful, and Fegan’s competent and clever rhymes scan well (“Each day he would see her standing for hours, / Across from his shop, selling her flowers”). But the tale is marred by the tired trope of a hero too afraid to talk to the girl he likes, treating her as an object to be won rather than someone who could be a friend. Frongia’s (Possessions of the Human Kind, 2017, etc.) cheerful illustrations of the green monster and the Caucasian characters are comical, especially Dan’s and the Grumpface’s expressive faces, and well-suited to the misadventure.

A skillful fairy tale about a hero and the flower seller he loves, though it’s hampered by an outdated literary device.

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9953592-0-8

Page Count: 34

Publisher: TaleBlade

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2017

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.


From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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