Bonne nuit, chérie.

READ REVIEW

TICKLE MONSTER

Matte black pages with blocks of solid geometric color and a white sans-serif type illustrate a small child’s dialogue with an imaginary monster in the darkness before sleep.

The tickle monster has yellow horns, green hands and feet, and a blocky orange-and-blue body. The child bravely asserts, “You don’t scare me!” Tickling the monster’s body parts one by one makes them fall away. After the feet are tickled, it cannot catch the narrator; after its teeth are tickled, it cannot bite; after its tummy is tickled, it cannot swallow. As it falls into its component parts, it becomes clearer that the tickle monster’s parts are made of toys that sit in the darkness of the room: an orange car; a little house. At last the child declares, “Phew! I can finally go to sleep”—with the awareness that if the monster returns, it can be tickled to pieces once again. The whole is quite elegant in the execution of its dramatic design and the demonstration of how the child copes with fear independently, without calling on a parent. The book is a French import; the original title is Gros Cornichon, in which “cornichon” means not only “pickle” but also something like “twitbrain.”

Bonne nuit, chérie. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1731-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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

LOVE MONSTER

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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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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