Both arachnophobes and arachnophiles will find useful debate fodder squashed within these pages.

I'M TRYING TO LOVE SPIDERS

What if “trying” not to hate spiders doesn’t quite cut it?

Barton’s Jekyll-Hyde treatise on the much-maligned Araneae features splat marks throughout in mute testimony of the narrator’s failure to come to terms with the positive attributes of her nemesis. The endpapers boast a colorful representation of these eight-legged phobia-targets, while the text offers accessible, classroom-friendly factoids. There is no name for the type used—because there is no type used. Wild, freehand lettering screams at readers in direct proportion to the escalating hysteria generated by spiders ambling across exclamation point–splattered pages. As the narrator shudders toward détente, (most) readers will gradually acquire a burgeoning respect for these industrious arthropods. After all, each spider on the planet (if not squished) can be responsible for eliminating over 75 pounds of bugs in a single year! They walk on ceilings thanks to their scopulae (look it up), and they are sneaky stealth masters. Spiders are “BUG NINJAS.” Barton’s wacky ink and digital artwork is simultaneously cringe-worthy and cackle-inducing—and very splattery.

Both arachnophobes and arachnophiles will find useful debate fodder squashed within these pages. (Picture book. 3-12)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01693-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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