HELLO, MONSTER!

What if that new kid in the park is not a boy at all? What if….

Even though Mom always tells the young narrator not to talk to strangers, when they go to the park together, she encourages her child to say hello to various random people. “That lady over there…with only pigeons to talk to” looks very friendly. And that little boy with the pail and shovel seems “perfectly safe.” Her child is not so sure. What if the boy is a “MONSTER in disguise?” Maybe there’s a secret cave under the sand where this boy/monster has lured many children. The captured children tend the monster’s “pet moles, and clean his floor, and comb his fur, and cook his horrible, slimy dinner.” An escape plan forms: The children dig a tunnel to safety. But what if they emerge in a panther’s cage? Maybe the panther won’t like the taste of humans, and they can help her escape, as well. When they get back home, their parents will be so happy to see them they’ll let them stay home from school and never make them talk to strangers again. Beauvais’ twisty tale, translated from French and substantial for a picture book, is well-matched by Shearring’s busy and colorful illustrations. The narrator is depicted as white, and the monster’s other hypothetical victims are a diverse bunch. Children will love the details of the monster’s underground lair.

Admirably imaginative. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65170-4

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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