A small heroine young readers will be happy to meet.

OONA

A young Black mermaid goes after a treasure but learns an important lesson along the way.

Oona is “sweet,” a little “salty,” and “brave and curious, like most treasure hunters.” Since she was a baby, she has gotten into adventures chasing treasure. But now she has Otto, her rescue otter pup, to come along for the ride. The one special treasure Oona can’t figure out how to obtain is a crown wedged tightly into a rift. She tries three times to get the crown unstuck—the artistic but vague language and pictures make it difficult to see exactly how—but when she is struck on the head by a ship’s plank, she gives up on the crown and on treasure hunting altogether. Oona pursues other interests. She naps. She draws in the sand. She hangs out with her “land friends”—two White children. But Oona is “missing her spark.” Then a seashell washes ashore, and she gets a new idea. Some ingenuity and invention and encouragement from friends become the keys to her success. Oona is an adorable protagonist, with her dark skin, enormous Afro, and striped, orange tail. With her ups and downs and her fundamental ebullience, she will easily win fans. While the details of her obstacles and problem-solving methods are not quite clear, the messages of persistence and of valuing the work of one’s own creation are strong and effective. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A small heroine young readers will be happy to meet. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-298224-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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