Otherworldly but with luminous pictures of a remote community.

READ REVIEW

SEB AND THE SUN

Seb’s coastal village lies so far north the sun doesn’t shine during winter, making even daytime beach treasure hunts with his walrus companion “cold, dreary, and dark as night.”

Wearing his distinctive, Viking-horned winter hat, Seb sets out to find some sun for his small but diverse community. Little, pale Seb greets local friends: “old Bruce Brewster,” a darker-skinned, bearded fisherman; a bespectacled white knitter named Mrs. Vandermuss; a mixed group of miners sipping soup and coffee; and Mr. and Mrs. Muktuk, cued as Pacific Northwest Native Americans who wear furred parkas and carve totem poles. These neighbors provide pockets of warmth, light, and encouragement. Similarly, Gigot’s artwork, while overcast, provides engrossing details in street and window vignettes, with patches of lemony yellows and arctic whites contributing buoying moments of firelight, lamplight, and snow. The text, set in a candlelight yellow, glows on inky backgrounds. Readers might squint at what seem at first to be gloomy, digitally painted pencil illustrations, but they will soon feel lifted in noting people of varying skin tones, occupations, and ages, all engaged in productive work. Seb feels his work is to find sunlight for his neighbors, even if it means rowing all the way out to sea. Some might find the ending contrived, but it’s hard not to feel warmed by a luminous resolution so full of love.

Otherworldly but with luminous pictures of a remote community. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990249-0-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Ripple Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Fun, fun, fun all through the town! (Picture book. 4-6)

THE HIPS ON THE DRAG QUEEN GO SWISH, SWISH, SWISH

This book’s gonna werk, werk, werk all through Pride Month and beyond.

Drag persona Lil Miss Hot Mess rewrites “The Wheels on the Bus” to create a fun, movement-filled, family-friendly celebration of drag. The text opens with the titular verse to establish the familiar song’s formulaic pattern: “The hips on the drag queen go SWISH, SWISH, SWISH… / ALL THROUGH THE TOWN!” Along the way, more and more drag queens join in the celebration. The unnamed queens proudly display a range of skin tones, sizes, and body modifications to create a diverse cast of realistic characters that could easily be spotted at a Pride event or on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The palette of both costumes and backgrounds is appropriately psychedelic, and there are plenty of jewels going “BLING, BLING, BLING.” Don’t tell the queens, but the flow is the book’s real star, because it encourages natural kinetic participation that will have groups of young readers giggling and miming along with the story. Libraries and bookshops hosting drag-queen storytimes will find this a popular choice, and those celebrating LGBTQ heritage will also find this a useful book for the pre-K crowd. Curious children unfamiliar with a drag queen may require a brief explanation, but the spectacle stands up just fine on its own platforms.

Fun, fun, fun all through the town! (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6765-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A lightweight fear-dispeller, without the gun violence that now makes Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (1968)...

MONSTERS AREN'T REAL

Beaten down by a ubiquitous chorus of denials (see title), a monster suffers an existential crisis.

Surrounded by emphatic claims that it doesn’t even exist, a monster sets out not only to prove the contrary, but to establish its scariness credentials too. Alas, neither blasting the world with graffiti and printed fliers nor rearing up menacingly over a baby in a carriage, children at the barre in a ballet class and other supposedly susceptible victims elicits any response. Juggling some cows attracts attention but not the terrified kind. But the monster’s final despairing surrender—“That’s it! It’s over! I give up! ... /  Monsters aren’t real (sniff)”—triggers an indignant denial of a different sort from a second, smaller but wilder-looking, creature. It takes the first in hand and leads it off, declaring “We’re two big, strong, scary monsters, and we’ll prove it.” In truth, it won’t escape even very young readers that neither is particularly scary-looking. Indeed, the protagonist-monster is depicted in the sparsely detailed cartoon illustrations as a furry, almost cuddly, bearlike hulk with light-blue spots, antlers and comically googly eyes, certain to provoke more giggles than screams.

A lightweight fear-dispeller, without the gun violence that now makes Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (1968) so discomfiting. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61067-073-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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