Subtly educational and definitely amusing.

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EMMA AND MUSE

A young artist named Emma uses her beloved dog, Muse, as the model and inspiration for her art.

Little Emma sports a tiny black beret as she draws, paints, and sculpts in her own well-supplied studio. Her best friend and artistic muse is her Irish wolfhound, who patiently holds poses and models in costumes to assist Emma. When Muse tries to add his touches to one of Emma’s large canvases, however, she yells at the dog and he runs away. Emma loses her creative edge without her Muse, so she creates posters apologizing to the dog. Muse stops at an outdoor art fair, where one helpful artist shows the dog Emma’s posters. Muse finds his way home, and Emma invites him to collaborate on her next painting. Terms used in the art field are seamlessly woven into the story and reviewed in a glossary, although the idea of an artistic muse is conveyed through context rather than by explicit definition. Charming illustrations in watercolor with pen and ink use white space effectively and provide glimpses of different artistic styles and ways of creating art. Emma is a blonde, light-skinned girl, the artist who helps Muse presents black, and both artists and festivalgoers are diverse. While the illustrations are contemporary and polished, the cover design is not as appealing, with an oddly spaced title. Teachers will find lots of uses for this story as an inspiration for classroom art projects.

Subtly educational and definitely amusing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1994-3

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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