A well-meaning miss.

READ REVIEW

SAM, THE MOST SCAREDY-CAT KID IN THE WHOLE WORLD

A LEONARDO, THE TERRIBLE MONSTER COMPANION

A little over a decade after Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (2005) failed to scare even Sam, “the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world,” both monster and little white boy, now friends, are back.

Sam, readers learn, is still scared of everything except Leonardo, so they will not be surprised at his abject terror at the sight of monster Frankenthaler and her friend Kerry, a little black girl. Being “the second-most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world,” Kerry is equally terrified. Sam’s “AAAAAAAAH”s and Kerry’s “EEEEEEEEEK”s comically dominate the top halves of their respective sides of this double-page spread. Leonardo and Frankenthaler jump to the same, wrong conclusion: that each child is afraid of the unfamiliar monster. Apparently, however, it’s the unfamiliar human that provokes such fright, though the book leaves it up to readers to decide what’s so scary about each completely un–scary-looking child. A skilled, confident adult could use this moment to tease out a rich discussion. For their parts, Leonardo and Frankenthaler just leave it up to Sam and Kerry to “figure it out,” leading to a rushed, superficial exploration of commonalities and differences. As a companion to Leonardo, this shares its predecessor’s look and expectation-toppling gag, but it does not have the first book’s effervescence nor its perfect pacing—and, crucially, it doesn’t get at the heart of what it seems to want readers to understand.

A well-meaning miss. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-368-00214-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more