THERE'S A DRAGON IN MY CLOSET

Is there or isn’t there a dragon in the closet?

In his debut as a picture-book illustrator, fine artist Palmer depicts a young black boy with a crown of dreadlocks atop his head and a big imagination. He’s convinced that a dragon in his closet is responsible for various happenings (leaving a dollar bill under his pillow when he loses a tooth, tidying his room while he’s out) and also for the mischief he’s blamed for (tracking mud in the house, breaking a flower pot, eating all the cookies in the jar). He tells his parents about the dragon at the beginning of the book, but after the cookie incident, his exasperated mother leads him to his closet—where they find a dragon-shaped pile of stuff. The boy steadfastly holds onto his story of a real dragon, deciding the heap of things is just a clever ruse. Ultimately, however, the story is confusing: is the child using this story to get away with mischief? Is he truly innocent of any mischief-making and ignorant of his parents’ tooth fairy and tidying duties? More problematic is Taylor’s forced, uneven attempt at rhyming verse, which undermines the book’s success as a whole despite its painterly illustrations and the appeal of a story about a contemporary black family.

A miss. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57284-227-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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