A terrific read-aloud; each repeat visit will ensure gleeful participation, as readers practice both tone and volume. A...

THANK YOU, OCTOPUS

When a well-meaning octopus helps his buddy to bed, silliness ensues.

It’s “Bedtime ahoy” on this plump, little tugboat with Yellow Submarine–like appeal. Accordingly, the mates aboard—a good-natured boy and his cephalopod steward—begin their bedtime ritual. Octopus makes a warm bath. “Thank you, Octopus,” the boy says happily, until he realizes it’s a tub full of egg salad! “Gross! No thank you, Octopus,” the child firmly states. Wanting to make amends, Octopus offers more help and hilarity as he reinterprets the bedtime routine: Undies land on the Statue of Liberty, teeth receive a (paint) brushing, and the monsters under the bed? They’re now in the closet. Farrell’s playful illustrations, done in pencil and colored in a warm pastel palette, are appealing and hip. There is a meditative energy to his lines that perfectly captures the allure of the sea, and his use of word bubbles, patterning and quirky humor are reminiscent of an indie comic. In the end, the tables are turned, as the courteous kid extends a bear hug (given by an actual bear!) to Octopus. The best buddies say good night to each other—and to the bear, their dirty socks and the monsters in the closet.

A terrific read-aloud; each repeat visit will ensure gleeful participation, as readers practice both tone and volume. A maritime—and bedtime—delight. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3438-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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