Some tonal inconsistency, but overall, an original, entertaining YA fantasy.


Keaghan in the Tales of Dreamside


A young boy discovers a dream world that exists between the cracks of reality in his home in this omnibus of the first five books of Batt’s Tales of Dreamside series.

Keaghan is a seemingly ordinary kid who one day accidentally slips into a magical reality called the Dreamside, which is full of lost things both from Keagan’s real life and his dreams. It’s inhabited by small, twiglike creatures—the Caretakers and the Knitters. As Topit, the main Caretaker who befriends him, explains, all homes have a Dreamside. As a Caretaker, his main responsibility is to ensure that everything runs smoothly, while the Knitters mend the holes in reality that are torn whenever someone dreams. In the first novel, Keaghan becomes acquainted with this strange world and eventually finds his way home. The second through fifth follow a longer arc; all Dreamsides are under attack by malevolent creatures known as the Tomsi, who seem to have been set off by Keaghan refusing to give them his lost tooth, causing him to take up a quest to save the land and friends he’d grown to love. This is a phenomenally imaginative series, with a strong, relatable child protagonist, collected in this handsome, beautifully illustrated edition. It can also be appealingly dark, with eerie fairy-tale motifs such as the clever concept that the Tomsi once required a tithe of children’s bones, until they agreed to take teeth instead, thus explaining the origins of the Tooth Fairy myth. If it has any major faults, it’s that these richer, wickedly funny elements don’t always rest fully easily with the books’ otherwise lighthearted tone and sometimes simplistic morals. The former seem more suited to slightly older children raised on Roald Dahl novels, while the boy’s epiphany at the end of the first novel that “A home is a dream of love made real” feels targeted to a much younger crowd.

Some tonal inconsistency, but overall, an original, entertaining YA fantasy.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0990638506

Page Count: 388

Publisher: StoryJitsu

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2014

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.


From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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