Fun and frisson in just the right balance.

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THE TOO-SCARY STORY

Two siblings take charge of Papa’s scary bedtime story in Murguia’s sweet and chilling nighttime tale.

As brown-skinned siblings Grace and Walter settle down for bed, Papa (also brown-skinned) offers to tell them a bedtime story. To Walter’s dismay, Grace excitedly demands a scary story, and Papa begins with two brave siblings in a forest that is “very, very... / dark.” When Walter exclaims that the dark is too scary, Papa’s story shifts from the forest to a meadow alight with fireflies. After a moment, Grace insists that fireflies are not scary, and Papa’s story turns again—the siblings now facing creatures hidden in the bushes. “Too scary!” Walter objects again, and Papa reveals that the creatures are a group of tired, furry animals settling down to sleep. But Grace still wants something scary, and as the story turns dark once again, both children must summon their courage to banish a shadowy monster and triumph over the story and their fear. Illustrations that adeptly transition between the creepy and cheerful sides of the story’s nighttime world perfectly complement the equally nimble text. Directed by the children’s input, the shifts from dark to light in Papa’s voice and story tone are dynamically mirrored by similar shifts of palette and mood in the art.

Fun and frisson in just the right balance. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-73242-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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