Appealing to kids while parents may declare the writing and story the winner, with the illustrations a distant second.



An alligator learns that friendship is more rewarding than winning in this children’s tale from writer/illustrator Shapley-Box.

Tator the Gator is feeling glum; his friends are forever winning prizes in the Applefest and, despite his best efforts to win a juggling contest or bake the best apple pie, his little house remains unadorned by any trophy or ribbon. Tator says to his friends:  “I have never won a ribbon or crown. I have no talents, and I am lacking skills. I have nothing to put on my windowsills.” His friends plan to coach Tator so he can win the Applefest race. They cleverly craft running shoes for him from a tire and an old shoelace, and hold practice runs with Cabbit the Rabbit manning the stopwatch. On the day of the race, just when Tator is nearing the finish line, and it looks like he’ll have his first a taste of victory, an unexpected wrench is thrown in the works. The story adeptly deals with emotions and issues that even young children struggle with—envy, loss and loyalty, among others. Shapley-Box tells her tale in rhyming verse with a lively cadence, and some passages are spot-on Seussian. The illustrations are composed well, and some details are lovely, especially the trees, flowers and landscapes. But Shapley-Box hasn’t hit on a cohesive palette. Many pictures are a barrage of color with varying intensities of too many color families. Nevertheless, children are likely to focus on the animals, nearly all which rate high on the cute meter. And indeed, most of the characters are well rendered and have a unique charm. Unfortunately, the least appealing is Tator; his eyes are a muddy hazel color that clashes with the green of his skin, the rendering of which suggests less an alligator and more of a wrinkly, multihued cucumber.\

Appealing to kids while parents may declare the writing and story the winner, with the illustrations a distant second.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615383828

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2010

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.


From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.


Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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