If “being mean…means… // I LOVE YOU!!!” then this kid sure must love her mother. Wouldn’t lots of moms prefer a hug?

THE MEANEST OF MEANIES

A BOOK ABOUT LOVE

A monster enumerates all the ways her mother is mean.

While this blue-skinned child is completely serious in her criticisms of her green-skinned mother, hopefully readers will see similarities to their own moms: Mom wakes the narrator with tickles and coffee breath, waves goodbye at school dropoff, bribes her for conversation, and makes her read books at bedtime (four, not the desired 82). Weirdly, a school-picture-day thread is dropped abruptly in favor of a spelling bee (where Mom cheers). The creators of the podcast #IMOMSOHARD may have their tongues firmly in cheeks, but their child protagonist comes off as an entitled monster. Some adults may find the situations familiar, but few will want this parent-child duo as role models: The child is sassy (“Look, lady, my hands are all busy!”), and the mom is sometimes a doormat (making three breakfasts). Some of the rhymes are rough, and the meter sometimes stumbles. Briggs’ digital illustrations play up the humor in the text while smoothing the rougher edges a bit with a monster cast. Few characters have lifelike skin tones, and all have features that set them apart—varying numbers of appendages or eyes; horns, spines. The girl and her mother share blue hair, horns, and spotted skin; each has two legs and eyes, and the girl has two arms to her mother’s four. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

If “being mean…means… // I LOVE YOU!!!” then this kid sure must love her mother. Wouldn’t lots of moms prefer a hug? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304055-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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