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From the Child's Play Library series

Simply sweet.

Little Monster isn’t ready for bed. What can Big Monster do?

“You must be tired after your big day,” says Big Monster. “No, I’m not,” replies Little Monster. “My knees have lots of bounces in them.” And so the battle begins. “Show me,” Big Monster says, with a snaggle-toothed smile. Big Monster’s turquoise blue, with orange-striped horns and a nose that resembles a child’s drawing of an evergreen tree. Little Monster’s a golden yellow, with a nose that resembles a cotton boll. Little Monster jumps on a trampoline but doesn’t get tired. “My bottom wants to wiggle-jiggle.” “Show me,” is Big Monster’s reply. Still to come are swinging, rolling around, and frolicking in a frothy bubble bath. Finally it’s almost bedtime, but Little Monster’s feet aren’t tired; they “have jumps inside them.” Little Monster jumps like a jack-in-the-box, then needs to take a last zoom around the room, arms extended like an airplane, finally settling in Big Monster’s lap. But still, the eyes aren’t tired. Big Monster (who is beginning to look pretty fatigued) leads Little Monster in an exercise: “Open, shut…shhh.” And so to bed. Hunter avoids pronouns, so the monsters can be gendered any way readers choose. Bowles makes Little Monster appropriately sassy and energetic, and if caregivers are as tired as Big Monster after all Little Monster’s antics, well, that’s a welcome kind of realism.

Simply sweet. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84643-985-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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