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A GIANT MESS

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Something of a mess indeed.

A child doesn’t want to clean up after playtime, only to discover a mess that’s much bigger.

Molly, a White child cued as a girl with pigtails and a bright orange dress, is having fun playing with an abundance of toys. When Mom tells her to clean up the “giant mess,” Molly starts to throw a tantrum—only to be interrupted by a literal giant. Bright green and bushy-eyebrowed, giant toddler Jack (cued as a boy with oversized sweater and red pants) runs through Molly’s neighborhood, using houses, infrastructure, animals, and people as playthings. When Jack’s parents insist he clean up his “toys,” Jack begins to throw a tantrum, and Molly decides to pass down the lesson she’s been taught: You should clean up the mess you make. Unfortunately, Jack leaves the job unfinished, and Molly finds her room even messier than before. The upside-down second story of the house puts a whole new spin on Mom’s request that Molly “pick up your room.” Simple sentences and short sight words are apt for a new reader. Full of big facial expressions, sweeping movement, and destructive chaos, the dynamic illustrations carry the book. While some may find the double-entendre concept and resulting chaos humorous, the comedy is flattened by giant disparities of gender and power, as a girl and her mother are left to clean up after a (giant) boy who treats them like objects.

Something of a mess indeed. (Graphic early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4639-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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ABDUL'S STORY

A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill.

A young Black boy struggles with writing—until a special guest visits his class.

Abdul loves to tell stories about the people in his neighborhood, and his friends at school love hearing them. But whenever he tries to write down his stories in a notebook, spelling rules confuse him, and his “scribbly, scratchy, scrawly letters” never stay on the lines. Abdul decides that his stories are not for books. One day, a visitor comes to Abdul’s class; Mr. Muhammad—a Black man with a flattop haircut like Abdul’s and whose sneakers, like Abdul’s, have “not a single crease or scuff”—is a writer who urges the students to “write new stories with new superheroes.” Abdul feels motivated to give writing another shot, but again he ends up with endless erasure marks and smudges. Mr. Muhammad shows Abdul his own messy notebook, and Abdul, who is left-handed, decides to try writing without erasing. He makes a mess but searches through the clutter for sentences he loves. He rewrites and rewrites and works on his mistakes until he forms a story he likes, proudly claiming the title of writer. Bright, full-color, textured digital illustrations depict a racially diverse, joyful community. This story offers an honest portrayal of learning differences and demonstrates the importance of role models who reflect kids’ own backgrounds. It is a lovely addition to the shelf of meaningful children’s books portraying Black Muslim Americans in everyday situations. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6298-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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KNIGHT OWL

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • Caldecott Honor

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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