This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last.

THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD!

From the Tater Tales series , Vol. 1

One grumbly day, two mutant tater brothers vie to determine who is the greatest in the world.

It’s goofy-looking Rot Poe Tater, with an awesome unibrow and “surprisingly sturdy stick legs,” versus big brother Snot, a sleepy, upset couch potato with bedhead. Tot, their “usually super chipper” little sister, acts as the judge. The first challenge, a potato sack race with shades of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” ends in a tie. The second contest is Hot Potato Hill, where the brothers must roll down a hill after Tot. No one wins, and the third contest is a laugh-off. Rot declares he’s laughing so hard that he needs to pee his pants but then remembers he doesn’t wear pants. When Rot and Snot are laughed out, Tot is still giggling. That’s when the plot twists and twists again. The text, primarily boastful speech-bubble banter between Rot and Snot, also contains songs, cheers from an enthusiastic worm, and fun wordplay, including alliterative places names like Barrel Bottom Bog and the Moldy Mounds. Text in a smaller typeface alternates with graphic panels, keeping the action moving. Expressive potato faces make the action and emotions clear. Fans of the picture book Rot: The Cutest in the World (2016) will enjoy seeing the protagonist again; Clanton relies on the same simple yet expressive cartoon illustrations and humor.

This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last. (pictures of other taters who have excelled in the Hot Potato Hill challenge, facts about potatoes, lesson on how to draw Rot) (Graphic novel. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9318-6

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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