Still, even on a very crowded metafictive shelf, this effort is good fun.

READ REVIEW

THIS IS MY BOOK!

“I am the author, and that means I get to write all of the words. I am also the illustrator, so I get to make all of the pictures, too,” lectures a sadly deluded, bespectacled white man.

As soon as he draws Percy the Perfectly Polite Panda, his control crumbles. “I prefer to be called Spike,” informs the panda, who goes on to wreak havoc. Pett poses his characters on blank, white space, the author/illustrator looking out at readers and Spike mostly turned back to as he uses crayons to “add some color to these boring white pages.” Spike draws some new characters, and together they begin some serious engineering. They build in a flap. “I don’t want any flaps in my book!” complains the author/illustrator. Then they make a pull-tab, which, hilariously, animates the author/illustrator jumping up and down as he screams, “I DON’T WANT PULL TABS!” An unwanted pop-up is even funnier. Finally the author/illustrator listens when Spike explains that “it’s not just your book. It’s ours too,” and, crucially, “it’s their book, too,” gesturing out at readers. Spike’s invitation to readers to “help us” is clearly limited to the minibook included at the end, however, never really getting to the creative synergy among creator, book, and readers that is at the heart of reading.

Still, even on a very crowded metafictive shelf, this effort is good fun. (Novelty picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93790-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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