GEORGE IN THE DARK

This depiction rings true in its portrayal of the paralysis of fear and the power of the right circumstances to motivate...

George’s fear of the dark is clear from the cover, where the bedsheets are drawn up to his nose; young listeners will want to know if this ends well.

In the daylight, the blond protagonist is fearless. He scales tall trees, rescues damsels in distress and downs insects in a single gulp. The darkened bedroom, however, has him quivering at the threshold. Valentine creates just the right balance of humor and sympathy around her character. Readers will chuckle at his rigid body—parallel to the floor, as his father attempts to pry him from the door—and at the whites of his terrified eyes in the total blackness of the next spread. The gouache-and–colored-pencil illustrations are rendered with visible graphite strokes for these nighttime scenes. This choice adds to the tension on pages where familiar objects appear to have menacing expressions. George’s teddy bear and pajamas (both red) stand out, so when he accidently tosses his blanket-wrapped companion across the room during the climax, observant viewers will know something before George does. The boy’s empathy for another (his bear is scared too) prompts him to summon his courage, venture past the shark-shaped laundry basket and conquer his debilitating emotions.

This depiction rings true in its portrayal of the paralysis of fear and the power of the right circumstances to motivate change. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-449-81334-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

ROBOT, GO BOT!

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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