The ending is touching enough that the story is almost as vivid as the people in the pictures.

WHO WILL ASK THE FOUR QUESTIONS?

Ben-Ami’s illustrations in this Israeli import by way of the U.K. are so expressive that readers can understand the plot just by looking at the characters’ faces.

There are only three things to know. First: A brother and a sister get into a horrible fight just before the Passover Seder. Second, and maybe the most important: They both love music. She’s always singing, and he’s always strumming an apple-green guitar. And third: By the end of the meal, they’re both singing together again. Readers can learn most of this from the characters’ mouths and foreheads: the boy’s dismissive laugh when his younger sister tries to sing and, in the same picture, her one angry, cocked eyebrow. The only major detail readers need to learn from the text is the actual subject of the argument. At a traditional Seder, the youngest child sings the four questions, a chant that explains the meaning of the holiday, but in this family, the older child, brother Eitan, doesn’t want to give up the job. The problem is solved in a way that’s both entirely predictable and satisfyingly surprising. Evie struggles with the words, and Eitan joins in to help her out. Throughout the meal, just about everyone is smiling. (The characters are all white and mostly related.) But in these illustrations, each person’s smile is distinctly, beautifully unique.

The ending is touching enough that the story is almost as vivid as the people in the pictures. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78438-463-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Green Bean Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will...

HOW TO SCARE A GHOST

From the How To... series

Reagan and Wildish continue their How to… series with this Halloween-themed title.

If you’ve ever had a hankering to scare a ghost, this handbook is what you need. In it, a pair of siblings shows readers “how to attract a ghost” (they like creepily carved pumpkins and glitter), identify a ghost (real ghosts “never, ever open doors”), and scare a ghost (making faces, telling scary stories). Also included is a warning not to go too far—a vacuum is over-the-top on the scary chart for ghosts. Once you’ve calmed your ghost again, it’s time to play (just not hide-and-seek or on a trampoline) and then decide on costumes for trick-or-treating. Your ghost will also need to learn Halloween etiquette (knocking instead of floating through doors). The title seems a little misleading considering only two spreads are dedicated to trying to scare a ghost, but the package as a whole is entertaining. Wildish’s digital cartoon illustrations are as bright as ever, and the brother and sister duo have especially expressive faces. Both are white-presenting, as are all the other characters except for some kids in the very last spread.

The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will be clean from all the vacuuming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0190-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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SCAREDY SQUIRREL HAS A BIRTHDAY PARTY

From the Scaredy Squirrel series , Vol. 5

When Scaredy Squirrel plans a party, he concentrates on maximum security, not maximum fun. His checklist: "Confirm date of birth; pick a safe location; choose party colors; get tuxedo dry-cleaned; prepare cake recipe; practice breathing (to blow up balloons/blow out candles); mail party invitation to myself." That's right—there’s only one guest at Scaredy's birthday party, and it's himself. But when his chum Buddy sends him a birthday card, he reconsiders his guest list to include his pal, even making the momentous decision to hold his party on the ground instead of in his tree. Replete with the lists and diagrams that are this OCD rodent's hallmarks, the story unfolds with both humor and some useful etiquette tips. From conversational gambits (good: "If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?"; bad: "Is that a muskrat on your head? Oops... it's a toupee") to the "dos and don'ts of partying" (do: sit quietly; don't: double-dip), kids will find much to laugh at and think about. Typically (for a Scaredy adventure), despite a plan so complete it includes tooth-brushing breaks, a surprise happens—party animals show up! Watt’s wry digital illustrations make the most of the perceived mayhem, using a host of graphic conventions to tell her story. There's no question it's a formula by now, but it's still a winning one. Many happy returns, Scaredy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55453-468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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