Wrapped in the chiaroscuro of film noir, kids will forget they are learning to read, focusing instead on the comic bits,...

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BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE

In five chapters spanning almost 200 pages, Selznick—here working with husband Serlin—manages to do for the early reader what he accomplished with the picture book: reinvent it.

The narrative unfolds in finely wrought, crosshatched compositions drawn in pencil and introducing the color red to reward readers as they hunt for stolen objects alongside the pint-sized simian detective. Though he’s as successful as his hard-boiled, cinematic counterparts, Baby Monkey is still a youngster, so after each client arrives for consultation, he playfully peers through his magnifying glass, scribbles findings, nibbles snacks, and attempts to dress himself. This structure provides the repetition that, when paired with brief sentences, visual clues, a large typeface, and clear dialogue bubbles, serves the format extremely well. Impish expressions and oversized trousers will amuse the audience throughout each of the several-page wardrobe sequences. Preceding each knock on the door is an office “scene change” inviting viewers to analyze objects and predict the visitor’s identity; for example, and in a nod to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the iconic image from Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon heralds an astronaut. An oversized bonnet and dress shroud the final guest in mystery until the loving denouement. Not to be missed are the sendups of a bibliography and index, and adult readers will enjoy the visual keys to the clues planted in Baby Monkey’s office.

Wrapped in the chiaroscuro of film noir, kids will forget they are learning to read, focusing instead on the comic bits, persistence, and vulnerability of an endearing hero. (Early reader. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18061-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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