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Delightful if a tad one-dimensional.

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Gregor, a little green monster who loves to run and shout and show off his horrendous strength by lifting heavy things, is bothered by a nagging, “nasty thought.” He looks in a mirror one day, seeing his big nose and “sticking-out ears,” and asks himself, “Am I handsome?” Mommy seems the perfect person to answer the question. “Of course,” she says. “I don’t know anyone who can squint as handsomely as you.” Daddy agrees, adding, “You’ve got the stinkiest, cheesiest feet in the whole world!” Daddy gleefully tosses him in the air, downing a small plane and a handful of birds. Granddad admires Gregor’s “rotten crooked” teeth; his neighbor loves his “mucky, yucky” warts; his little brother likes his “wibbly-wobbly” tummy; and Gregor’s best friend praises his gray, greasy, scaly, scabby skin. (Her magnifying glass reveals all sorts of wacky dermal life.) Gregor looks in the mirror again and remembers all of the things that his family and friends have told him. At length, he realizes: “It was true. He really was handsome!” Dully’s bright, digital illustrations are deliriously goofy, each a story in itself. They give Dax’s straightforward silliness, teeming with juicy adjectives, a nice lift. The story itself doesn’t plumb the depths, concentrating on skin-deep humor.

Delightful if a tad one-dimensional. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-029-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move.

An interactive board book promises a variety of experiences.

A book that gets kids up and moving sounds like a great idea. The half-circle cutout of the spine and large handle formed by another die cut on the right side are intriguing. Unfortunately, the rhyming instructions for using the book as an exercise prop are confusing. Even adults will find themselves puzzled when told to “paddle the floor,” or to “hang on the handles. Step over the book. / You're a turtle in its shell! Go peek out and look.” The busy pictures shift perspective according to each scenario presented but give few visual clues. For example, the only hint of a dinosaur on the page where readers are told to “put this book to your mouth and let out a roar” like a dinosaur are the teeth that line the edges of what is meant to be a gaping maw. It’s not always obvious whether the book is meant to be facing readers or turned away from them, adding another layer of confusion. Furthermore, many of the instructions run counter to how young children are typically taught to treat books, as when they are told to step on it and then waddle or to lift it with their feet. The relatively thin board pages and weak handles will soon be torn by normal handling; following the directions in the text will only hasten the destruction.

Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8733-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Combine monsters, ridiculousness, and audience participation for a delightfully raucous result.

Though this book is all about monsters’ bedtime routines, don’t be fooled—this will induce not sleep but its opposite.

Young readers see each step the monsters take in getting ready for bed and are asked to guess which of several items they might eat for a bedtime snack, use to take a bath and brush their teeth, wear as pajamas, snuggle with, and kiss. The very simple sentences and clues in the bright illustrations allow even the youngest children to “read” this very quickly. “MONSTERS eat bedtime snacks. / Which snack do MONSTERS eat?” A glass of milk, a carrot, a piece of bread, or an umbrella? A turn of the page reveals “MONSTERS eat UMBRELLAS!” Similarly, monsters ignore the rubber ducky, shampoo, and bar of soap in favor of bathing in chocolate pudding. By the third question, most children will have caught on and will be happily blurting out the most ridiculous item on the page, which also happens to stand out clearly from the other three. Helpfully, the author breaks this pattern when it comes to potty time. In his ink, brush, and Photoshop illustrations, Zenz uses bright, plain backgrounds to keep the focus on the characters and their choices. The monsters are adorable and wonderfully diverse in all their multilimbed and -eyed glory, featuring sprouts of hair, horns, tails, and spikes.

Combine monsters, ridiculousness, and audience participation for a delightfully raucous result. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1653-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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