This book engagingly invites young readers to explore a different lifestyle from a child’s perspective.

READ REVIEW

ISLAND BIRTHDAY

Life on a remote Maine island can be frustrating for a typical kid who misses the conveniences that mainland residents take for granted.

Riley has to eat dry cereal since the delivery plane bringing the milk is delayed due to bad weather, but even worse, his upcoming birthday will be a bust, as his birthday gifts and surprises will be late. He wishes he could have a “normal birthday, with a bunch of kids my age and presents from a toy store.” But island life, although unpredictable, has other compensations: wild, uncrowded beaches, sparkling ocean water for swimming, interesting wildlife, and a small community of friendly, unconventional people with plenty of leisure time and a willingness to share their lives and occupations with the boy. Finally the plane arrives, along with Riley’s birthday package, and the resulting impromptu birthday party, attended by the whole island, is well worth the wait. Writing directly from her own experiences as a longtime resident of Maine’s Matinicus Island, island pilot, and teacher in the island’s one-room schoolhouse, Murray speaks with the ring of authenticity. Hogan's lively, brightly colored pastel illustrations bring the distinctive island setting to life.

This book engagingly invites young readers to explore a different lifestyle from a child’s perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-88448-425-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution.

NIGHT LIGHTS

A SUKKOT STORY

On the first night of Sukkot, Daniel is apprehensive about sleeping in the dark sukkah without a night light.

Older sister Naomi likes to show off her knowledge acquired in Hebrew school, so she tells Daniel all about the holiday. She explains how Jews remember the ancestors’ journey from Egypt, why the sukkah is built, and the reason for an open roof made of tree branches. Once the building and decorating of their sukkah is finished, Daniel’s quiet anxiety parallels Naomi’s eager excitement through the family’s outdoor dinner. At bedtime, the siblings create a makeshift sleeping area in a corner of the sukkah. In the dark, scary nighttime noises and shadowy images disturb Daniel to the point where he begins to go inside. But to his surprise, Naomi, who has a touch of the heebie-jeebies herself, encourages him to stay and look up through the branches of the sukkah’s open roof. He sees a sky full of stars, or “night lights,” as they glowed for the ancestors thousands of years ago. Soft paintings provide a contemporary view of a White Jewish family with some parallel historical scenes of the forbearers making their way through the desert. The interwoven explanation of the holiday within the context of the story is enhanced with an afterword that references today’s refugees, who must live under precarious circumstances in temporary shelters.

A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-547-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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