This book requires two or more readers—the more participants, the merrier.

DO NOT EAT THE GAME!

Board games, much like playtimes, take two or more players to make everything go right.

Schoolkids need a helping hand as they move from solo to social play—especially in a screen-oriented world—and McElligott here guides them along. Illustrated in a game board–style layout and written in the imperative style of game instructions, this clever book externalizes kids’ worst playtime impulses in the form of literal monsters. Readers first encounter a small child laden with a big, multicolored game box. When the family’s gray terrier wanders out of the room, the kid lets a pink, furred monster in through the window to serve as a substitute playmate. Things begin well enough, but, as a crowd of monsters accumulates and overwhelms the protagonist, the loyal pup returns to scare them off. Unfortunately, the furry fiends abscond with the game board, then refuse to give it back. Undaunted, the enterprising kid handcrafts a decoy game that distracts the thieving horde with explicitly naughty directives—throwing pieces, munching the board, and so on—enabling the retrieval of the board. Once the monsters realize good fun is contingent on good sportsmanship, they apologize and rejoin the game. By the amicable ending, readers have discovered the basics of fair play: abiding by the rules, waiting your turn, respecting your competitors, winning (and losing!) gracefully, and, per the titular mandate, abstaining from conspicuous consumption.

This book requires two or more readers—the more participants, the merrier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6723-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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