A kids’ tale with enjoyably eccentric visuals and a message of civility and forgiveness.

Bullies meet their very polite match in this quirky new picture book for young readers.

Author and illustrator Helms (Who’s New, 2016, etc.) returns to Ponderville, the setting of her previous children’s books for early readers—a strange, whimsical place where the inhabitants impart messages of friendship. This time around, the happy Ponderville residents are alerted to the imminent arrival of a quartet of “noisy, rowdy, greedy, rough and wild” Polygonsters—depicted as jagged, two-dimensional shapes with cranky faces. Readers are shown what happened the last time the bullying Polygonsters were in town: they trampled the garden, raided the Tea House, and overturned shelves and scattered books at the library. What will Ponderville do this time? One disgruntled character urges his friends to give the Polygonsters a taste of their own medicine (“we will be mean…we will be rude”). His fellow villagers have a different idea. First, they ensure that the Polygonsters will have no access to the places where they wreaked havoc before by simply shutting doors and posting “closed” signs. Then they disarm the invaders with politeness and generosity, greeting them with gifts of books, flowers, and tasty Tea House goodies. This does the trick, and the marauders trundle home with their presents. This book offers a gentle lesson in conflict resolution, although more jaded adults may wonder if the Polygonsters have actually hit upon a lucrative protection racket. Helms’ illustrations mix bright colors and ample white space, and they’re complemented by interesting placements of text that include dialogue in comic-strip–style balloons. The humorous sound effects (“glurp,” “hoo-wah”) invite repetition, and numerous typefaces and the author’s effective use of margins will keep readers’ interest high. Overall, the offbeat world of Helms’ imagination offers pleasant lessons wrapped up in visual and verbal fun.

A kids’ tale with enjoyably eccentric visuals and a message of civility and forgiveness.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9963397-3-5

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Set Free Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2017


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


From the Who's in Your Book? series

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

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 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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