The suggested coping strategy won’t work for all children, but if read with proper gusto, the book will be a sure storytime...

THE JOURNEY OF CAPTAIN SCAREDY CAT

A once fearless pirate captain gets his mojo back—just in time for bed.

For no good reason, Capt. Scaredy Cat, formerly unafraid of sharks, storms, or even girls’ kisses, is now jumping at his own shadow. What’s his worried crew, “rude, tough, and wild,” to do? (That description’s not echoed in Wimmer’s jolly depictions of children in diverse theatrical costumes. And though the costumes are diverse, the crew is not, mostly being as white as the captain with the exception of one dark-skinned sailor and a dog.) Unfortunately, “thinking was not their thing,” as the Spanish original’s translators put it, so they leave him aboard a haunted ship to be menaced by a succession of deliciously hulking monsters, whose sudden appearances in the shadowy, atmospheric illustrations will be greeted by young audiences with screams of delight. Though initially the captain “almost doodied in his pants,” firm repetitions of the mantra “they don’t exist, they don’t exist, they don’t exist” cause the ghost, the vampire, and the “ugly, ugly, ugly…truly ugly” werewolf to vanish—after which he snuggles down, “never ever afraid again.”

The suggested coping strategy won’t work for all children, but if read with proper gusto, the book will be a sure storytime hit. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-84-943691-4-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NubeOcho

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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