Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one.

BAD BOY, GOOD BOY

The tale of a young pup whose good deeds only appear naughty falls flat due to the repeated use of judgmental phrases in speech bubbles.

In four brief chapters, young readers meet Sam, an exuberant, somewhat impulsive pup whose heart is in the right place. While he does run amok through the grown-ups’ activities (“Bad boy!”) on the way to finding a friend’s lost hat (“Good boy!”), he is very careful not to make the same mistakes upon his return, though the adults don’t notice. When banned-from-cooking Sam helps blind-without-his-glasses Grandpa with his midnight snack, the large cartoon panels show Mama’s progression from anger to understanding. Some quite accidental mishaps at school provoke his teacher to call him a “Bad boy!” and send him to the corner, where he purposefully starts trouble and, confusingly, is dubbed a creative “Good boy!” In the final chapter, Sam slips out unseen during a storm; his frantic relatives find him sheltering a fallen baby bird. Watercolor, gouache and pen illustrations show anthropomorphized dogs whose expressions speak volumes, especially the angry and fearful ones. Unlike Chorao’s Kate (Up and Down with Kate, 2001), Sam doesn’t face everyday situations, so readers may find it difficult to relate…unless they often hear the titular phrases. What is most worrisome is that even when the grown-ups seem to recognize that Sam is trying his best to do the right thing, they don’t see that he learns from his mistakes and is a good boy indeed.

Readers will be left saying, “Poor Sam,” after this one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0520-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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