Fern loves Nanna‘s butterfly cakes, her mantelpiece mice, her white cat, Snowball, and most of all, she loves Nanna. But recently, Nanna has become sad, and she’s stopped baking and dusting. Even Snowball seems listless.

Mom can’t explain Nanna’s sadness, simply saying, “It’s like the joy has gone out of her life.” Understanding joy as the feeling she gets when she goes “whooshing down a slide,” Fern takes every container she can find to the park to catch some “whooosh!” for Nanna. When she sees a cute puppy, Fern feels a whooosh! but can’t catch it in her cardboard box. Fern gets the same feeling from a laughing baby, she but can’t catch it with her decorated coffee can, nor can her butterfly net catch the shimmer of sunlight on water. Fern walks home with heavy feet. Nanna asks her what’s wrong, and Fern tells her all that she saw and shares her disappointment at failing to catch a whooosh! for Nanna—which prompts a glowing “whooosh! of a smile” from Nanna. The repetition and patterning in Averiss’ text are appealing, and Fern’s emotions and concern will be familiar to many children. Follath’s delicate illustrations make the whooosh! visual as a green, sparkly swoosh. While it’s good to see Fern’s can-do attitude, her easy success belies the hard work that is recovery from depression. Fern and her family present white; Nanna uses a wheelchair.

Heartwarming. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-91027-766-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)


Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...


Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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