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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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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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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