Delightfully ambiguous and recursive.

READ REVIEW

THE NEIGHBORS

An inquisitive child speculates about the neighbors’ lives in this lively outing, translated from Hebrew.

The first spread depicts a child narrator (coded in cartoon-style, digital illustrations as feminine with long, red hair in a ponytail) approaching a building. The accompanying text reads, “I live in a building that is seven stories high,” and a page turn shows her going inside on the verso. The facing recto depicts seven variously styled mailboxes that correspond with the front doors of each apartment she’ll pass while walking upstairs and bolsters her assertion that each door is “slightly different.” Those differences are, in fact, great: They’re all different colors; some are ornately decorated, while others are plain; and each has a clue that inspires the child to imagine the apartment’s inhabitants. It’s never confirmed whether her visions of neighbors as masked thieves, an explorer, acrobats, a vampire, a pirate and his mermaid spouse, or musicians (this last spread is the only one to, thus far, clearly depict people of color) are imaginary or are part of a fantastic reality. When her mother (who shares her paper-white coloring) and father (who appears Asian) put her to bed, readers may note that her bedroom is filled with details corresponding with her visons of her neighbors. So maybe she was just imagining them? But then a closing spread undermines her earlier statement about her “boring” parents by depicting them as superheroes. This fantastic twist reintroduces the possibility that anyone might reside behind the neighbors’ doors, after all.

Delightfully ambiguous and recursive. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3168-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

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.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

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

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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