The children look understandably anxious from first to last, but for readers at least, the not-too-scary monsters and...

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THE NIGHT OUR PARENTS WENT OUT

A parental date night sparks a wild flurry of imagined “What if?” disasters from the children left at home.

Hardly are Mom and Dad out the door than the two sibs have them being attacked by evil unicorns and hostile ostriches, assailed by vampires, menaced by a giant squid, and—reduced to the size of crumbs thanks to minicupcakes made with too much “shrinking powder”—washed down a drain toward a waiting horde of equally tiny sewer alligators. Fortunately the children’s sitter, being both calm and canny, has clever ways to escape each pickle on tap: asked how the kids’ parents would “get big again,” she says, “Have you ever had a jumbo-sized cookie? Well, how do you think they make them jumbo-sized?” The co-authors are professional improv/stand-up performers, and that background shows in the rapid, free-form way scenarios develop as they’re tossed back and forth. They theatrically build to a crescendo and end in a burst of relief with the parents’ return, looking none the worse for their fanciful (or, to judge from the closing scene, maybe not so fanciful) adventures. Though Bui puts the grown-ups in a classic convertible and adds other retro notes, the casual clothing, not to mention dad’s knit cap, give the cartoon illustrations a contemporary vibe. Parents, kids, and babysitter are all white.

The children look understandably anxious from first to last, but for readers at least, the not-too-scary monsters and quickly foiled threats turn the whole situation into an entertaining game. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57687-747-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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I LOVE MY COLORFUL NAILS

From the Égalité series

A timely look at self-expression.

Kindergarten-age Ben paints his fingernails because he loves their colorful appeal. Unfortunately, not everyone does. While walking to school one morning, Ben is harassed by two other boys: “Painting your nails is for girls. You’re a girl! You’re a girl!” Ben initially internalizes the negative feelings but eventually tells his parents. Although Ben’s father shows solidarity by painting his nails as well, this does not stop the bullying. Ben sadly kowtows to gender conformity and paints his nails only on the weekend, although his father continues to pick him up after school with painted nails. On Ben’s birthday, his entire class surprises him with painted nails, and at recess, they do it again. End of story! Educators and caregivers should prepare themselves for the barrage of logical questions that are sure to follow: Why didn’t Ben’s parents talk to his teacher about the bullying? What happened the next day? Did the bullies learn anything? Books about gender nonconformity are needed, as are titles that celebrate general messages of acceptance, but this story is too superficial and the ending too slapdash to be worth the attention. Gusti’s illustrations, which echo the stylings of Jules Pfeiffer, do little to enhance the text. Most characters appear white, while darker-skinned characters are reduced to background filler only. The book is also available in Spanish.

Skip it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-59-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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