An inventive interpretation of a familiar predicament faced by kids.


A child encounters monsters in this picture book.

Josie is afraid of the monsters she sees in the dark. Her dad gives her a “Scary Snapper” (a flashlight) and tells her when she shines it on the creatures, they “will turn into something not scary.” One night, Josie nervously walks to the kitchen for water. She is relieved when the “monsters” she sees are in reality everyday items when she uses the Snapper. For example, a “monster with a funny shaped head” is just clothing on hooks. In the kitchen, she points the Snapper at a big monster. But it doesn’t turn out to be a familiar item. The illustration depicts a fuzzy purple creature cowering in fear. When he turns on his flashlight, aims it at Josie, and says, “It’s a…MONSTER!” she is shocked. The book concludes: “Josie was no longer afraid…with the Scary Snapper…she was the scariest thing in her house.” The concept of spooky shapes actually being ordinary objects is relatable. Although Downing’s twist ending may not assuage frightened readers, it deftly illuminates the notion that fear and intimidation are universal feelings experienced by even those figures readers are afraid of. Machado’s illustrations are artistic and nicely done. Josie has brown skin and pink hair. Key words are often emphasized typographically, some spanning entire pages. The images include up-close portrayals, like a glowing flashlight. The monsters are shown as both Josie’s imagined versions and their real forms.

An inventive interpretation of a familiar predicament faced by kids.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020


Page Count: 35

Publisher: Dark Window Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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