Bubbling over with a singular charm of its own, this book will have kids going ape over the monkeyshines here.

READ REVIEW

MONKEY WALK

In this sparsely worded tale, an older sibling of messy twins turns out to be uniquely gifted at meeting the needs of a particularly prankish ape during a family trip to the zoo.

As their mother blithely attends to her phone rather than her offspring, it’s up to the protagonist to pick up the detritus of those pesky little sibs. Perhaps recognizing her eldest’s frustration, their mother encourages the beleaguered kid to climb up a rope trellis to something called the “Monkey Walk.” The protagonist complies only to find both hat and personal gaming device snatched by quick orange fingers, which is all readers see of the troublemaker till the end. Trades are suggested via signs held by various animals including (to the protagonist’s understandable, “Oh, you have got to be kidding” reaction) penguins for the device. The denouement reveals the thief to be a multitalented orangutan (not the titular “monkey,” but that’s neither here nor there). With a keen eye to the importance of detail, Madden immediately and easily sets the tone, the feel, and the characters. Refreshingly, the book avoids the proselytizing tone so many picture books succumb to when addressing the hand-held electronic world. Instead, this light and airy storytelling opts to show rather than tell. The protagonist’s family all present white, but other zoo visitors are diverse.

Bubbling over with a singular charm of its own, this book will have kids going ape over the monkeyshines here. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-88898-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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