Appealing for entertainers and those who would rather just listen.

What is the point of reading a book aloud?

Greenfield and Lowery’s latest work of metafiction—after I Don’t Want To Read This Book (2021) and This Book Is Not a Present (2022)—features an agitated unseen narrator objecting to the idea of reading a book aloud: “It’s dopey words like aloud that make me want to remain asilent.” The rambling and occasionally digressive complaint provides an excellent canvas for Lowery’s energetic, hand-drawn typography and whimsical, charmingly silly drawings. Nearly every word is in capitals and gets its own color, size, or blocky 3-D rendering, resulting in a set of stage directions for a reader’s voice, graphically indicating pacing and emphasis. The detours from the cranky harangue are amusing. The narrator literally addresses “the elephant in the room”—“Hello, Elephant!”—and a few pages later focuses on the possibility that a word like aplomb could show up. The elephant offers a helpful definition of aplomb with, well, aplomb. Concerns about the pitfalls of performance are at the heart of this monologue. At one point the narrator’s worries (“I mean, what if I lose my place?...What am I supposed to do then? START OVER?”) are itemized on the verso and repeated on the recto. The audience will possibly find this hilarious. The sly paradox, of course, is that the reading aloud of this metatextual discourse contradicts the narrator’s avowed aversion to doing so and does it with panache. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Appealing for entertainers and those who would rather just listen. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593616581

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023


Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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