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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Let these crayons go back into their box.


The Crayons return to celebrate Easter.

Six crayons (Red, Orange, Yellow, Esteban, who is green and wears a yellow cape, White, and Blue) each take a shape and scribble designs on it. Purple, perplexed and almost angry, keeps asking why no one is creating an egg, but the six friends have a great idea. They take the circle decorated with red shapes, the square adorned with orange squiggles “the color of the sun,” the triangle with yellow designs, also “the color of the sun” (a bit repetitious), a rectangle with green wavy lines, a white star, about which Purple remarks: “DID you even color it?” and a rhombus covered with blue markings and slap the shapes onto a big, light-brown egg. Then the conversation turns to hiding the large object in plain sight. The joke doesn’t really work, the shapes are not clear enough for a concept book, and though colors are delineated, it’s not a very original color book. There’s a bit of clever repartee. When Purple observe that Esteban’s green rectangle isn’t an egg, Esteban responds, “No, but MY GOSH LOOK how magnificent it is!” Still, that won’t save this lackluster book, which barely scratches the surface of Easter, whether secular or religious. The multimedia illustrations, done in the same style as the other series entries, are always fun, but perhaps it’s time to retire these anthropomorphic coloring implements. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Let these crayons go back into their box. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-62105-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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