Children will feel better, too, knowing they have a helpful, honest, and empathetic picture book ready for the next time...

WHEN SADNESS IS AT YOUR DOOR

Many books for young readers tackle terrible tantrums, but few address sadness that surfaces perhaps for no reason at all; this gives that muted malaise a shape, an identity, and love.

A child tentatively opens the door and finds Sadness, a towering, amorphous, pale teal figure, waiting on the other side. It has arm and leg stumps but no neck or waist. Text set in a type that emulates handwriting tells children what they already know: “Sometimes Sadness arrives unexpectedly.” The playful interplay between the literal and the figurative makes engaging a tough topic pleasurable. In casting melancholy not as an enemy but as a sometime companion, this powerful picture book inspires empathy and action. The hand-drawn illustrations’ extremely limited, three-color palette (a washed-out blue for Sadness’ ghostly, blobby body, subdued circles of pink on the child’s cheeks, and chocolate brown for the lines that etch their world) similarly channels depression in its constriction of color. The ungendered, light-skinned child trudges alongside Sadness with slumped shoulders as they enact the sound, practical coping tactics introduced by the narrative voice. “Try not to be afraid of Sadness. Give it a name.…Find something that you both enjoy, like drawing.” Front endpapers show depressed people ignoring their sadnesses, while back endpapers show these same characters interacting with them and feeling better.

Children will feel better, too, knowing they have a helpful, honest, and empathetic picture book ready for the next time Sadness shows up for a visit. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-70718-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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