There’s a lot of learning packed into this little book, making it adaptable to many settings



A curious fox and an ensemble of animals speculate about what is inside a festive box.

White backgrounds on every page provide a focusing contrast to the colorful animals and the mysterious blue gift box. Illustrations are mixed media with hints of texture—a snake is filled in with what appears to be a blue, cable-knit sweater, while a peacock is composed of a photo patchwork of realistic feathers. Each spread introduces an animal, who guesses at the box’s contents or utters a playful phrase, with some text set in a color that matches the animal’s. Rhyming language introduces social-emotional concepts such as “nervous,” “grumpy,” and “proud.” These vocabulary words are emphasized by sharing the texture used in creating the animal. Cartoony facial expressions on the animals might seem engaging to some but contradictory to others. For example, the slightly uneven pop eyes and resulting expressions of the “rude” giraffe and “cheerful” duck are incredibly similar. Before the box is finally opened, a wordless verso focuses readers’ attention on the box on recto, the only visual, and builds anticipation. Quick gratification is delivered: “ ‘It’s a cake!’ said the delighted snake.” The whole crew of animals gathers around in an unnamed celebration—making this book appropriate for discussing myriad milestones with children.

There’s a lot of learning packed into this little book, making it adaptable to many settings . (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-783-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


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 Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet