TWENTY YAWNS

Perfect bedtime story for the end of a busy day.

After a day at the beach, Mom, Dad, and Lucy are tired. But when the moon shines through her window, and everything looks mysterious, Lucy is suddenly wide awake. How will she go to sleep?

This warm, sweetly ordinary story is Pulitzer Prize–winner Smiley’s picture-book debut. The simple text describes a sunny day at the beach, with Lucy digging a hole, running into the water, walking from one end of the beach to the other, rolling down warm dunes, and eventually heading home, with Mom declaring, “Early bedtime!” As Mom reads a bedtime story, she falls asleep, and Lucy begins to nod off. But when moonlight bathes her bed, a wide-awake Lucy slips out of bed and pads out of her room in search of Molasses, her bear. Dad is snoring in his chair, and the house is very quiet. After finding Molasses—and all her menagerie of animal toys—Lucy settles them in her bed, snuggles in next to them, sighs a happy sigh, and falls asleep. Caldecott Honoree Castillo beautifully captures the warmth of the story in textured watercolors and bold, saturated colors. Of special note is the refreshingly straightforward portrayal of the family as biracial (Mom has dark skin and springy hair, while Dad is white). And the titular “twenty yawns?” Readers can find and count them sprinkled throughout the text.

Perfect bedtime story for the end of a busy day. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2635-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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