A short but well-developed tale about facing anxiety and making friends.

OH SUSANNAH

THINGS THAT GO BUMP

A young girl confronts her fear of sleeping over at a friend’s house in this second book in a series for early readers.

Roman (Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag, 2017, etc.) returns to the story of nearly 8-year-old Susannah Maya Logan, who faces a new problem: her friend Lola has invited her for a sleepover, but Lola’s brother, Kai, claims that the house is haunted, and Susannah is scared. She’s also reluctant to explain this (“She was a big girl now. How could she tell her mother she was afraid to stay at Lola’s house?”), setting the stage for misunderstanding and conflict. She soon learns about other children’s fears—and about adults’ tendency to use “I’m afraid” in a figurative, rather than literal, sense—and she decides to go to Lola’s house after all: “She had to do this. She had to go in there for Lola.” However, her fears endure as Kai teases her about ghosts and pulls pranks. The girls finally confront Kai with a prank of their own, and Susannah learns that the spooky noises in the house are part of a surprise that her parents and Lola have been planning. The book’s nearly 50-page length and vocabulary make it appropriate for readers near Susannah’s age, and although the fears that the characters confront—clowns, unicorns, being replaced as a best friend—may not impress adult readers, they’re given the right weight for a young audience. The book deals obliquely with issues of diversity; there’s no mention of race in the text, but the illustrations depict Lola as dark-skinned, and at another point, Susannah explains the color green to a blind friend (“When you go really fast, that’s green”). Roman ties up most of the plot threads neatly but also leaves a clear starting point for the next installment in the series. Overall, it’s a solid story with clear appeal for its intended readership.

A short but well-developed tale about facing anxiety and making friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947188-13-6

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chelshire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2017

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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