While it’s fun to imagine this as a manual that will pass clandestinely from child to child, the truth is that most kids...

TALES FOR THE PERFECT CHILD

Impeccable instructions for triumphing over grown-ups.

Originally published in 1985 with illustrations by Victoria Chess, this pleasing reissue with new illustrations and one new story still showcases spot-on techniques for getting the better of adults. The trim size is invitingly small and each story (there are eight), accessibly short. Where Chess supplied pictures of identical, hairy, but benign monsters, Ruzzier depicts a variety of recognizable anthropomorphic animals. Bertha, a duck in pants and a sweater, knots her own shoelaces to stall for time. Harriet, a kitten in a button-down shirtdress and bow tie, “was a very good whiner. She practiced and practiced, and so of course she got better and better at it.” Several characters win by obeying letter but not spirit. Chick Ruby must watch her baby brother, so she watches him take everything, item by item, out of the cupboards and dump them on the kitchen floor. Piglet Harry (star of the new story) can’t have ice cream until his carrots “are gone,” so he tucks them into a plastic bag in his pocket. Using black and blue ink and ink wash, Ruzzier complements the textual humor by giving the animals indignant eyebrows, sly expressions of superiority, seriously recognizable pouts, and genuine satisfaction at their inevitable victories.

While it’s fun to imagine this as a manual that will pass clandestinely from child to child, the truth is that most kids know these techniques already. No harm, no foul—and no carrots. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6379-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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