Definitely a book aimed at high-energy boys.

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OLIVER'S TANTRUMS

Photorealistic, vibrantly colored, sometimes-disturbing images tell an amped-up story of sibling jealousy.

Like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, neglected big brother Oliver seeks revenge on his family through an imaginative encounter; he takes as his vehicle three animated fuzzy balls, quaintly named Basil, Cedric and Rasmus, he finds in a box in the attic. Each Tantrum, when thrown hard at his long-suffering mother, transforms itself into a truly scary monster and inflicts near-biblical punishments of flood, food and toys gone mad. Fortunately Mom is tough and can stand up to all this bad treatment. She confronts Oliver’s demons wearing various uniforms—hazmat suit, firefighting gear, full armor. Finally she lowers her sword, opens her visor and explains to him that she loves him and didn’t mean to ignore him. The hyperactive Oliver is somewhat mollified by this, and together, mother and child conquer the dreadful Tantrums by putting the now-harmless balls back in their box. In a hint of things to come, however, little sister Polly is seen discovering the Tantrums for herself. Illustrator Vladimir Todorov’s background in animated movies is clearly evident in the high quality of the airbrushed photographic artwork, which almost seems to pop off the pages. In one particularly memorable image, a monster made of spaghetti leers at Mom with olive eyes and a particularly nasty-looking pepperoni tongue.

Definitely a book aimed at high-energy boys. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-897476-67-3

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Simply Read Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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