It’s got a werewolf, but it’s bloodless.

READ REVIEW

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT SAM

The birthday boy accidentally invites a werewolf to his sleepover.

At first, Max doesn’t want to invite new kid Sam to spend the night along with his other friends. “There’s something different about him,” he argues, but his mom counters that “that’s no reason to leave him out.” The third grader conveys his concerns to his other friends, but they seem to like the weirdo—apparently he “can run really fast,” says Michael (similarly initially left off Max’s guest list for nose-picking), and Elliott enthuses that he “always knows what’s cooking in the cafeteria way before lunchtime.” Sam himself seems hesitant, his hair standing on end as he says “I’m not sure I can…there’s a full moon that night.” But Sam decides to show up after all, and during the course of the sleepover he and his oddities start to grow on Max. Before long it’s revealed that the rare-meat–loving, hairy boy who’s inclined to bite is, in fact, a werewolf. The beastly reveal at the end is fun, but the journey there is bogged down by confusing transitions between scenes and awkward sentences. All the characters, including the protagonists, are awfully bland, and their somewhat interchangeable names make it hard to distinguish between them. The illustrations are unfortunately drab for such a lively concept. Max, his mother, and all his guests save Jeremy, who presents black, seem to be white.

It’s got a werewolf, but it’s bloodless. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-76680-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How to Catch… series

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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