A worthy addition to the arsenal of bedtime fear-of-the-dark books.



A sleepless kid tackles nighttime fears of lurking monsters with an imaginary army of medieval knights and guardians.

In the shadowy gloom of late night, when sinister beings come out, a protective team takes its place inside and outside the protagonist’s home. Three watchmen dressed in armor stand ready at the front door “with broad shield and heavy sword.” Mounted bareback, “the Horsemen charge, / the Horsemen hunt. / …for all will be outrun.” On the tops of rooftops and trees, a group of Archers aim their bows at the sky. A Midnight Flock of owls swoops in to “search from skies above” while “a fleet patrols the sea.” And in the protagonist’s bedroom “the Knights of Near… / …stand where there is fear.” Deep asleep in “your castle, / …your kingdom” the child can rest assured of the promise made by “THE NIGHT KNIGHTS” that the “night will be still. / The night will be safe.” The staccato, second-person narration is paired with opaque, evocative paintings done in fuchsia and midnight blue that embrace the eeriness of a middle-of-the-night atmosphere. Sharp-eyed kids will note that the powerful warrior images come to life from the protagonist’s toy-filled bedroom. The protagonist is white, with short, mussed hair and blue pajamas.

A worthy addition to the arsenal of bedtime fear-of-the-dark books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2846-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Though the story is simply told, the overall effect is somewhat cryptic, making it a challenge to connect with these...


From the Freddie & Gingersnap series

Two friends off on an adventure have an unexpected encounter that leads to new discoveries and a sense of satisfaction.

Readers familiar with their eponymous first outing (2014) will remember that Freddie, a skinny green dinosaur with sharp teeth, and Gingersnap, a pink and purple dragon with a bow on her single, straggly hair, overcame their differences to become friends. Newcomers, however, may have a bit more trouble initially figuring out just what kinds of animals they are and why they are tangled together, flying through the sky (courtesy of Gingersnap’s wings) in search of clouds. Straightforward sentences capture their mildly contentious debate about whether anyone can own a cloud. Then suddenly they come upon a hot air balloon with two singing children inside. Mistaking the balloon for a cloud, both are captivated by how friendly and engaging this particular “cloud” is—even more so when the young pilot apparently conjures up a magical thunderstorm. Black outlines and intense colors show up well against the mostly blue backgrounds, while the textures of paper and paint add visual interest. Like its predecessor, this also features a double gatefold midway through; however, this one does little to enhance the slight plot or heighten the atmosphere.

Though the story is simply told, the overall effect is somewhat cryptic, making it a challenge to connect with these characters and their quest. (song lyrics, score [not seen]) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5976-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This friendship tale doesn’t shine.


All work and no play does more than make Alien a dull guy.

Alien’s job is to shine stars, and that’s all he does—no play, no hobbies, no fun, no friends. That is, until the day when the stars go out completely. Alien follows his manual, but the stars are still dark, so he calls the Star Helpline. They suggest a magic star varnish sold only on faraway Earth. Off Alien goes. But he’s going to need lots of help—where to find the varnish?—and to add to his problems, aliens float on Earth. Luckily, a young white, blond boy named George and his dog happen along to lend a hand. After getting so much help from George, it would seem rude to refuse his invitation to play despite how dire Alien’s problem is. But perhaps play—and a friend—is just what Alien needs after all. Readers never really feel Alien’s tension, as the book seemingly flits from one problem to the next, each easily solved quite serendipitously. Hughes’ illustrations, which appear to be digital, show Alien as a rounded blue cylinder with ink arms, legs, ears, and antennae and a darker blue nose that begins at the top of his head and looks like an upside-down T. Inexplicably, the duo’s having fun on the playground in daytime, until Alien’s smile triggers the stars’ shining, and all of a sudden, it’s night.

This friendship tale doesn’t shine. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-745-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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