Lots of fun with a gentle message for little ones and their grown-ups.

BONAPARTE PLAYS BALL

Young Bonaparte is a skeleton whose difficulty keeping his bones from falling away at the most inopportune moments weighs on his mind.

With a large round head and a red baseball cap on top, his loose collection of bones resembles a spiral light bulb. His baseball team, the Little Monsters, is scheduled to play the Mighty Aliens, and he is especially worried about the dreadful possibility that he will literally fall apart during the game. He practices hard, and his faithful dog, Mandible, fetches any bone that comes loose. But his worries are for naught; his bones stay pretty much intact, at least until the winning celebration, and Mandible has his back(bone) when he needs help. The players on the Mighty Aliens have names like Flame Thrower and Galactic Slimer that describe their special talents. Some of the Little Monsters’ names are clever puns, like hero Bonaparte and his teammates Franky Stein and Batula. Others are more descriptive of their natures, like Ghostie, Mummicula, and Zombie. The very slight tale is fast paced, focusing on the events of the game and with nods to overcoming obstacles, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Terry’s busy cartoons are spot-on, matching the text’s lightness and humor as well as providing visual clues for young readers who may not be familiar with baseball jargon.

Lots of fun with a gentle message for little ones and their grown-ups. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984830-47-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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