GET ME OUT OF THIS BOOK

RULES AND TOOLS FOR BEING BRAVE

An ambitious blending of emotional and psychological tools with fantasy that will serve the right reader well.

Max, a formerly anxious bookmark, shares their journey to find strategies to manage their fear of the scary pictures in books.

Stylized mixed-media illustrations create an air of whimsy and encouragement in an artistic style reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers’: Scribbled lines pop against generous white space and a muted, textured color palette. Repetitive and at times rhyming, the text builds a rhythm that lends itself to read-alouds, especially for educators with students who seem to have difficulty regulating fear-related emotions. The text depicts Max’s instinctive panic response before they demonstrate the three Navy SEAL approaches to fear taught at Bookmark School: “Breathe deeply,” “Make a plan,” and “Think good thoughts.” Typography is utilized well here: The words “RULES AND TOOLS,” which serve as a shorthand for the Navy SEAL strategies, are distinguished from the rest of the text by traditional serif type, while the words “SCARIEST pictures” appear in larger nonserif type. Attired in a jaunty red cap with a yellow tassel, Max is a peachy pink bookmark, while their unnamed trainer is a deep red color with a long, blue queue-like tassel and dramatically sloping eyebrows (unfortunately calling to mind problematic, one-sided depictions of Asian characters skilled in mindfulness and martial arts).

An ambitious blending of emotional and psychological tools with fantasy that will serve the right reader well. (authors’ note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3862-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

LOLA AND THE TROLL

Too idealistic by half.

A group of kids take a troll to task.

A troll named Tom lives in Lola’s neighborhood. In Rodriguez’s delicate artwork, he’s tall and bizarre looking, with party hats for ears and oven mitts over his hands, and as kids walk past, he holds up signs plastered with insulting messages tailored to what he sees. No one likes the troll, but his comments cut. Most try to avoid Tom, but a light-skinned girl named Lola takes the messages to heart and slowly changes herself in an attempt to avoid criticism. After Lola has a heartfelt conversation with a bookstore owner about how bullies are the ones who are really afraid, she and the other kids stand up to the troll, revealed to be a short, light-skinned boy who’s “new to this neighborhood” and “just wanted…attention.” Many pages are crammed full of text, and one central metaphor feels overexplained as Lola describes herself as “tall on the inside,” which is apparently “what counts.” This story attempts to deliver an old-fashioned message about bullying through the modern concept of an internet troll, but neither element works especially well in this earnest text that naïvely imagines that all conflicts can be resolved through conversation and that trolls can be scared away through honesty and confidence.

Too idealistic by half. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593527634

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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