A useful tool for instigating socio-emotional discussions with children despite the muddied metaphor.

SIMON STEPS INTO THE RING

Regulating emotions can feel like a never-ending boxing match.

Simon doesn’t know what to do; he’s lost his temper at school again. Uncle Richard, who moved in with the family when Dad left, says there are lots of different puppets inside of Simon representing different aspects of his personality. There’s Simon the Fearful, dreading the consequences of his actions; Simon the Arrogant, who hurls insults at his classmates; Simon the Good Student, who makes comics in art class; and so many more. Like boxers, they compete for dominance. Uncle Richard reminds Simon that all the puppets can be useful, but only at the right time. The key is to listen to the “little referee” inside to make the right decisions. It won’t be easy, but Uncle Richard is proud of Simon for continuing to work at regulating his emotions himself. Originally written in French by a former teacher and pedagogical counselor, the book offers backmatter activities that encourage socio-emotional exploration. The text toggles among first person as Simon describes moments from his day, third person, when Simon introduces a particular puppet, and snippets of dialogue. Although the boxing metaphor has a strong start, it fails to follow a consistent pattern. Consequently, the strong beginning and ending bookend a rather meandering middle section. Stylized illustrations depict fair-skinned characters with round, rosy cheeks and black hair. The limited palette of gray, red, black, and white relies heavily on patterns and shadows created with meticulous pencil strokes. Arbona uses perspective and angle to draw focus, often exaggerating the size of one element to emphasize Simon’s feelings.

A useful tool for instigating socio-emotional discussions with children despite the muddied metaphor. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2181-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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