A very funny read-aloud done (mostly) right-side up.



Take reading for a spin (literally) with the newest metafictive comedy duo, Abner and Ian.

Their oddball routine begins with Abner, a duck, and Ian, a prairie dog, standing sideways on the edges of the pages—parallel rather than perpendicular to the background. Abner suggests breaking the fourth wall to ask readers (referred to in the singular as “the kid”) to help by shaking the book and turning the pages. Ian expresses some doubt about the idea. But, when Abner notes that they’ve “seen it work before” (a hilarious moment of meta-metafiction), the pals go forward with the plan. A countdown cue instructs readers to do as they’re told. Subsequent page turns find Abner and Ian in various different post-shake orientations (upside down, in the gutter, all mixed up, etc.). Will they ever make it to where they’re supposed to be so they can start the story? At 80 pages, the joke carries on a bit too long, but the witty back and forth between the two characters makes for a quick pace. Park’s art matches a limited palette of earth tones with bright, bold backgrounds. Her cartoon characters are richly expressive, nicely varied within the context of the heavy compositional repetition required to fuel the comedy. Amusingly, Abner’s scarf demonstrates at all times that it is subject to the law of gravity, even if the characters are not. Given the characters’ broad vocabularies, it’s a shame they resort to variations of “crazy” to describe how they want the book to be shaken.

A very funny read-aloud done (mostly) right-side up. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-48586-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.


From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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