A terrific Halloween title to share with those readers who prefer giggles to shivers.

NOT VERY SCARY

Monster Melly is invited to her cousin Malberta’s house “on the scariest night of all.” On her way, she notices she is being followed. Why? More importantly: by what?

Melly looks pleasant enough for a young monster, with her striped horns and fanged smile. What surprise could her cousin have in store for her? She has no time to think about that, as one “coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail” seems to be stalking her. Melly tells herself bravely it is “Not the least bit scary.” The following spreads reveal an increasing number of spooky characters following her. “[T]wo skittish skeletons” and “three wheezy witches” join the procession in turn, until “ten vexing vultures” round out the silly and not-so-scary group of creepy characters. But by the time Melly rings Malberta’s doorbell, her teeth are chattering with fear. Her three-eyed cousin opens the door to welcome her to a surprise party. But the true surprise is that all the other guests are right behind her! Brendler’s cumulative tale uses silly rhymes and humorous descriptions to make this counting adventure one that invites participation. Geisel winner Pizzoli (The Watermelon Seed, 2013) chooses a muted palette of oranges, browns, greens and purples to allow the whites—on Melly’s horns, cheerful ghosts and friendly skeletons—to glow.

A terrific Halloween title to share with those readers who prefer giggles to shivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-35547-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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