Joyful, joyful.

READ REVIEW

LONG AGO, ON A SILENT NIGHT

Parallel stories in verse and image connect a contemporary child’s arrival with that of the Christ child.

Berry’s debut picture-book text offers readers moving, graceful verse in the voice of a present-day new parent linking the birth of a child with Jesus’ birth. “Hoof and feather, hide and beak— / Some say the animals began to speak / Their love for the child. Could it be true? // We will whisper our love for you,” reads the verse, with accompanying digital illustrations casting the same baby and parents both in modern times and in the “long ago” biblical era. The pages are busy, sprinkled with lots of extra stars, and some of the imagery is downright mystifying—why is there a city perched on the baby’s head? But in a refreshing turn (as compared to many Nativity picture books), family members are depicted as people of color. The father has brown skin and Afro-textured, black hair while mother and baby have brown, wavy hair, and light-brown complexions. The contemporary setting is urban, and at the book’s end, historical and modern worlds merge in Won’s illustration depicting the Wise Men seeking directions from police officers in front of brownstones and a camel hitched to a fire hydrant. While the art style can seem labored or even at odds with the spare, elegant text, this is a picture book that many will cherish as part of holiday traditions.

Joyful, joyful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-27772-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sincere and wholehearted.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more