An inviting tale that will stretch inquisitive and observant young minds—and may even lead children to a greater...

Like a Zen koan, this story draws readers’ attention to silence, that vanishingly rare attribute of modern family life.

Yoshio, wearing the classic bright cap and backpack of the Japanese pupil, sets jauntily off on his way to school through the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Along the way he meets an elderly woman playing the koto, a traditional stringed instrument, who tells him that “the most beautiful sound” is in fact ma, or silence. Puzzling over this conundrum as he moves through his noise-filled day, Yoshio eventually becomes aware that silence is always there too, if only one learns how to notice it. Every detail of this book brings Japan vividly to life, from popular storefronts and cartoon characters to commuters wearing surgical masks and children removing their outside shoes at school. Japanese is rich in onomatopoeic sounds, and Goldsaito and Kuo convey this linguistic quirk to English readers both visually and verbally. The elegantly expressive text and illustrations together create an immersive sensory experience for readers.

An inviting tale that will stretch inquisitive and observant young minds—and may even lead children to a greater appreciation of that golden commodity, silence . (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-20337-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016


Quietly contemplative and thoroughly lovely.

A child finds adventure and a change of perspective on a dreary day.

Clouds cover everything in a palette of unending gray, creating a sense of ennui and gloom. A child stands alone, head down, feeling as gray as the day, and decides to ride through town on an old bike. Pops of color throughout the grayscale illustrations go unnoticed—there are yellow leaves scattered about, and the parking lot is filled with bright yellow buses, but this child, who has skin the grayish white of the page, sees only the empty playground, creaky swings, a sad merry-go-round, and lonely seesaws. But look—there’s a narrow winding path just beyond the fence, something to explore. There are things to be noticed, leaves to be crunched, and discoveries to be made. Imagination takes over, along with senses of wonderment and calm, as the child watches a large blue bird fly over the area. The ride home is quite different, joyful and filled with color previously ignored, reaffirming the change in the rider’s outlook. The descriptive, spare text filled with imagery and onomatopoeia is well aligned with well-rendered art highlighting all the colors that brighten the not-so-gray day and allowing readers to see what the protagonist struggles to understand, that “anything can happen…on a gray day.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Quietly contemplative and thoroughly lovely. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781797210896

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Comic fun for those who appreciate farce—or monsters.

The creators of Goosebumps and Arthur team up for a monster of a joke book.

Two monster friends, one big, one little, perch on a tree branch. Funny decides to improve glum Hunny’s mood with some irresistible jokes. Hunny remains unimpressed and resolutely grumpy, but Funny increasingly ups the ante, assuring Hunny more and more firmly that the best gags are yet to come. Funny tells a dozen jokes in total. Some are incoherent, while others are mildly amusing; all but one feature monsters, many involving monstrous appetites: “What’s the monster’s favorite school lunch?” “The teacher!” Funny believes that each one is hilarious and cracks themself up, but Hunny is unmoved. The impasse is resolved with one moment of slapstick: Funny jumps up and down on the branch in frustration, then becomes unbalanced, falls off the limb, and lands in the water below with a huge splash. Hunny thinks that the pratfall is hilarious and finally guffaws, good humor restored. Many readers will find the so-bad-they’re-good jokes and the ending satisfyingly absurd. Blocky collage illustrations of varied textures and cheerful colors, set against a flat background, carry readers through the text; the monsters are toothy, but most are reasonably friendly looking. Touches of red provide accents. Large text and mostly simple words will appeal to beginning readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comic fun for those who appreciate farce—or monsters. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-338-81525-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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