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THE SQUEEZOR IS COMING!

A feel-good book that effectively mixes gross-out humor, a bit of monster-y horror, and sweet affection.

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In this illustrated children’s book, a monster who loves giving hugs figures out how to make friends.

All the monsters in Ghastly Gigapolis hide when the Squeezor comes to town for supplies. Why? Because he “loves to give hugs. Great, big, wrap-his-arms-around-you-twice, squeezy hugs”—and although that doesn’t sound so bad, he also “looks like he wants to eat you up!” Besides those long, long arms, he’s got a mouth full of fangs, huge horns, “squashy” feet with greasy toenails, and sharp claws. But the Squeezor doesn’t actually want to eat anyone; he can’t help how he looks, and he’d like to be friends. He reads some self-help books, including 7 Habits of Highly Disgruntled Monsters, but they don’t give the creature any insight into himself. A portrait of his “Great-Grandmother Squeezums” inspires him to consider others, instead. In town, the Squeezor finds ways to help his fellow monsters by using his long arms. He gets a job and even discovers that his special hug cheers up the local Grumpypuss. Word gets out, and soon the Squeezor is welcomed by everyone; now, they all come out for a hug when he comes to town. Benishek (Dr. Guinea Pig George, 2017, etc.) offers a funny and sweet book that’s good for reading aloud. It features lively prose and references that will appeal to adults as well as kids, as when the Squeezor watches the TV show Game of Bones. It doesn’t quite make sense that a town full of monsters—many of whom also look ready to “eat you up”—would be so put off by the Squeezor, but that’s a small matter. Debut illustrator Fiss’ illustrations have plenty of variety and expressiveness without overdoing the monsters’ scariness; clever details expand the storytelling, such as the darling, if fanged, bunny slippers on vampire Bitey McBitesalot. The book is also available in a special edition for dyslexic readers, printed in an easy-to-read font (not reviewed).

A feel-good book that effectively mixes gross-out humor, a bit of monster-y horror, and sweet affection.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-387-02173-4

Page Count: 42

Publisher: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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