A cotton-candy puff of a story: sweet but entirely insubstantial

READY, STEADY, GHOST!

Gilbert watches the big ghosts float off to be-spook dark, creepy forests and towering castles, but he decides to find a homey, cozy house to haunt instead.

The first lights he sees in the darkness are not windows but a “gobble-me wolf” that, luckily, doesn’t see Gilbert but goes on its way. A path shining in the darkness turns out to be a “squeeze-me snake,” and curling smoke from a chimney is actually a “sizzle-me dragon.” Poor Gilbert ends up in a big castle despite himself, where he is so ineffectual that a dog chases him up the stairs…where he finds a tiny, (miraculously) populated castle on a table in the attic that’s exactly the right size for him. While children will appreciate Gilbert’s Goldilocks-like desire for the “just right,” the story is a chain of anticlimactic, often illogical plot points related in wordplay that borders on twee. Lindsay’s mixed-media illustrations employ what looks to be tissue paper for ghosts and wisps of fog against a forest of sharply outlined trees and branches. Gilbert is shaped like an upside-down teardrop that floats through the mildly threatening landscape. Even quite young children will wonder at his denseness in mistaking gleaming yellow eyes, an obviously scaled serpent and smoky breath that emanates from ground level for windows, a path and chimney smoke.

A cotton-candy puff of a story: sweet but entirely insubstantial . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-142318039-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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