Not too shabby for a first taste of the Bard.

Shakespeare’s classic tragedy gets a comic retelling and a happy ending.

“Once upon a time, one hundred and fifty million years ago….” Romeosaurus’ family (a mix of dino species) are herbivores, while Juliet Rex’s (T. Rexes and a pterodactyl nurse) delight in eating meat. The two meet at a masked ball, quickly becoming friends, though the herbivores must make a quick escape after Romeo helps Auntie Gladys off the buffet table, where she’s been trussed, with an apple in her mouth, and Mercutio-tops accidentally pokes Tybalt Rex with his horns. The balcony scene leads to a cementing of Romeo and Juliet’s friendship, and the two leave notes for their loved ones and run off to the tar pits. Knowing what danger that poses, Nurse-a-Dactyl and Mercutio-tops fly to the rescue (“We should have let them be friends!”), and the foursome agree that carnivores and herbivores can be friends (not meals). But this happily-ever-after is marred by a looming final-page meteorite. Indeed, O’Hara sprinkles humorous references throughout that will fly over kids’ heads, though parents will be in stitches: “Juliet Rex was waving her tiny arms in the air like she just didn’t care….” Joyner’s digital illustrations are a hoot. The dinos are dressed in Elizabethan finery (dino color and clothing color separating carnivores and herbivores, in addition to the former’s pointy teeth), and their expressions are sure to evince giggles, most being over-the-top.

Not too shabby for a first taste of the Bard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265274-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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