Satisfyingly and appropriately, community spirit defeats a bully.




A Jewish holiday celebration takes on contemporary relevance.

On Purim Jews read the Megillah, the story of Esther, which recounts how she saved the Jews of Persia from the evil Haman. Each time Haman’s name is mentioned, graggers, or noisemakers, are rotated by hand so that their noise drowns out his name. In this tale, a shopkeeper has arranged a display of the graggers, and a boy is almost ready to purchase one for his sister, also named Esther. He just needs more money. Then another boy enters the shop and rudely demands the very gragger the protagonist (whom readers eventually learn is named Ben) has selected. The shopkeeper sets it aside for the first lad, though. As Ben and Esther, both dressed in costumes for a Purim parade, leave the store they are accosted by the bully. Soon, Esther, joined by the shopkeeper and passers-by, enters into the spirit of the holiday, and they all spin their noisemakers, creating so much “racket” and “commotion” that the bully runs off. The shopkeeper uses the occasion to deliver a message: namely “we must never be afraid to take a stand against cruelty.” It is certainly a timely lesson, albeit delivered purposefully and at somewhat greater length than a typical picture book. Colorful illustrations are set in an indeterminate time and place with a largely Jewish, light-skinned cast. Four pages of backmatter offer further information on Purim, its observance, and graggers as well as instructions on how to make homemade noisemakers.

Satisfyingly and appropriately, community spirit defeats a bully. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-937786-75-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach.


The you-know-what hits the fan after a lad’s parents rashly allow him to pick a theme for his birthday party.

Julian insists, and so after the party store poops out, everyone sets to cranking out homemade poop-up invitations, “poopsicles” and “lollypoops,” costumes, and games like “Pin-the-Poop-on-the-Toilet.” But will anyone drop in? Do they ever—in such massive streams that even the local news team catches wind of the event. Better yet, dancing the “Doo-Doo Doo-op” to tunes from the Dookie-Poo band and whacking the poop piñata, everyone has a blast. The party assumes such legendary status that news of it spreads around the world, prompting Julian and his family to create a graphic instruction manual together. Galán goes to town with swirling scenes in saturated hues with lots of brown, featuring hyped-up figures with wide eyes and huge grins. Julian’s family appears to be an interracial one, with an Asian-presenting dad and White-presenting mom whose attitudes modulate from disgust to delight over the course of the story. Readers inspired to organize poop parties of their own will find models for suitable decorations in the pictures. A caveat: The recipe for poop slime that Berger applies to the tail end uses glue and baby oil, among other ingredients, but is not labeled as inedible. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23787-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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