Young ones will want to join in on this monster romp again and again, since it is all so silly, comforting and familiar.

READ REVIEW

ROMPING MONSTERS, STOMPING MONSTERS

The menagerie of monsters from Yolen and Murphy’s previous pairing (Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters, 2011) returns for an adventure at the playground.

All sorts and sizes of monsters gather at Creepy Commons to have some fun. The author uses two- or three-word phrases to build a steady rhyming text describing the full range of activities taking place. “Monsters stretch. / Monsters twirl. // Monsters catch. / Monsters hurl. // Monsters tumble, / Run, and lope. / Monsters jump / A monster rope.” The cadence will be soothing to young ears, leaving the eyes of toddlers and preschoolers to discover the playful details found throughout the soft-hued illustrations painted in oil, acrylic and gel. This diverse bunch is cute and cuddly without coming across as overly sweet. Some have four eyeballs, and some have only one. Pointy horns and handlike hair sprout from curious places on this happily rambunctious crew. Big and small, young and old—all cavort on slides and swings. Occasionally, there is a mishap—“Monsters in / Three-legged races / Fall upon / Their Monster faces”—but it is nothing a “monster-sicle” treat cannot fix.

Young ones will want to join in on this monster romp again and again, since it is all so silly, comforting and familiar. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5727-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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This clumsily executed extended dance metaphor doesn’t make the cut.

FLAMINGO FLAMENCO

Everybody can dance? Silly wordplay delivers a not-so-subtle message to value each person’s unique moves.

The brief story plays off the similar pronunciations of “flamingo” and “flamenco” but does not confine itself to that dance form, introducing seven different sorts of animal and an equal number of different dances. On the versos of the ensuing sequence of six double-page spreads, hippos dance hip-hop, wallabies waltz, tigers tap, a bear performs ballet, “camels can cancan in a long chorus line,” and sloths slow dance; a flamboyant flamingo on the right side of each spread outshines each with flamenco moves. Unfortunately, the book itself does not shine. A design decision to introduce the animals in a different order than originally shown is confusing, and the animals seem to have been chosen for their alliterative possibilities and improbable dance skills rather than for genuine animal characteristics. Toddlers unfamiliar with dance styles will not appreciate the flamingo’s contortions, much less the other animals’ moves, especially in their dance costumes. The rhyming text lacks rhythm; words and pictures don’t always match. For example, one bear is shown while the text reads “bears.” The ending, with the animals changing partners and the lines “We each have a dance, / so dance well your part. / Dance with all of your heart… / …even if it’s not the flamenco,” lands with something of a thud.

This clumsily executed extended dance metaphor doesn’t make the cut. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64170-235-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A sweet but not essential book.

BALL

From the Baby Unplugged series

A whole host of children presents a whole host of balls in this new installment in the Baby Unplugged series.

There are so many kinds of balls in this little board book. Big ball, shiny ball, game ball, plain ball, spot ball. And not all are necessarily balls. Some are round objects, like the snowball and the clay ball or the blueberry that is a “tiny ball.” Some balls are verb balls, like the “throw ball, / catch ball, / go ball, / fetch ball!” There is even a gotcha! ball that’s “not ball”—it’s a cube! And all these balls are being played with by an equally eclectic group of children. African-American, Asian, brown-skinned, and blond and brunette white children are all represented here in illustrations that are charming and clear but not particularly artful. It feels as though both author and illustrator are trying so hard to include so much that they’ve almost forgotten to have fun. It’s reminiscent of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish but without the spark that turns an OK book into a timeless classic. Best suited for young children who are already quite verbal.

A sweet but not essential book. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936669-42-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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