This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events...

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BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MY BROTHER HAS A MONSTER!

A boy is horrified as his older brother collects increasing numbers of scary and creepy creatures—and brings them all in the house!

Nesbitt delivers this overlong cumulative tale in a series of rhyming couplets. The awestruck younger brother narrates. “It happened just last Halloween, / the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen: / My brother went out after dark / and found a monster in the park.” Soon two hairy spiders, three rats, four toads, five black cats, and so on have invaded their house. The younger brother repeats, “I hope our parents don’t find out,” at the end of each new iteration. The text describes the mayhem that ensues while Slonim has fun giving the various animals hilarious expressions with his cartoon illustrations. Finally the dreaded moment comes when the parents arrive. But instead of gruesome unwanted visitors, there is a menagerie of more welcome inhabitants, including caterpillars, butterflies, geckos, kittens, and gerbils. The original monster that started the story is “a shaggy dog, just big and hairy.” The story takes yet another surprise twist after this one, and with few clues as to its internal logic, readers may find themselves scratching their heads.

This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events get wildly embellished. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-65059-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will...

OY FEH SO?

Weekly Sunday visits from their two aunts and one uncle are so disagreeable that three children take steps to alter the atmosphere through some harmlessly exaggerated imitation.

Each Sunday afternoon the family guests arrive, heavily plop themselves on the living room furniture, and make negative, complaining and resigned statements. “Oy,” says Aunt Essy. “Feh,” says Aunt Chanah. “So?” says Uncle Sam. “That was all they ever said!” Despite the children’s parents’ attempts to make pleasant conversation or the children’s enthusiastic play-acting performed for the guests, the reaction is always the same uncongenial three words. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict Essy, Chanah and Sam with unflattering caricatures of stereotypical adult Jewish characters, with clownishly large noses, slouchy, overweight bodies and unsmiling faces. In exasperation, the children each take a role and comically mimic their aunts’ and uncle’s behavior, forcing laughter and recognition. This mishpocheh now redeems itself with a newfound willingness to tell family stories and loving childhood memories; the palette here modulates from muted tones to bright, sunny colors.

While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will immediately recognize, they will appreciate the overall sentiment even if they miss the Yiddish essence. Nu? (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-148-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution.

NIGHT LIGHTS

A SUKKOT STORY

On the first night of Sukkot, Daniel is apprehensive about sleeping in the dark sukkah without a night light.

Older sister Naomi likes to show off her knowledge acquired in Hebrew school, so she tells Daniel all about the holiday. She explains how Jews remember the ancestors’ journey from Egypt, why the sukkah is built, and the reason for an open roof made of tree branches. Once the building and decorating of their sukkah is finished, Daniel’s quiet anxiety parallels Naomi’s eager excitement through the family’s outdoor dinner. At bedtime, the siblings create a makeshift sleeping area in a corner of the sukkah. In the dark, scary nighttime noises and shadowy images disturb Daniel to the point where he begins to go inside. But to his surprise, Naomi, who has a touch of the heebie-jeebies herself, encourages him to stay and look up through the branches of the sukkah’s open roof. He sees a sky full of stars, or “night lights,” as they glowed for the ancestors thousands of years ago. Soft paintings provide a contemporary view of a White Jewish family with some parallel historical scenes of the forbearers making their way through the desert. The interwoven explanation of the holiday within the context of the story is enhanced with an afterword that references today’s refugees, who must live under precarious circumstances in temporary shelters.

A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-547-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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