Being sad has never seemed funnier.

READ REVIEW

IRA CRUMB FEELS THE FEELINGS

Two irreverent friends navigate the cutthroat world of playground politics in this hilarious picture book about feeling sad.

Ira Crumb, a brown-skinned boy, and Malcolm Cake, a blue dog, are back with humor, friendship, and a shared love of pickles (Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend, 2017). On a trip to the playground, the two double over with laughter as they tell a knock-knock joke, but the fun takes a turn when Ira wants to play hide-and-seek but Malcolm wants to play tag. When all their new playground chums prefer Malcolm’s game, Ira finds that his “feelings are feeling feelings.” Ira even passes up a joyful dance-a-thon as he delves deeper into the abyss of his emotions. The dance-a-thon participants try to cheer Ira up, and even his surroundings try to lighten his mood, but Ira does not want to be distracted from his grief. When Malcolm sees how sad Ira is, he has a novel idea…why don’t they be sad together! This brings Ira right out of his funk, and the two bond over fart jokes. This beckons the offense of an actual fart, depicted as a green cloud adorned with a top hat and single spectacle. Nothing can bring two friends together like a classy fart joke! The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the playful use of speech bubbles adds motion and zeal.

Being sad has never seemed funnier. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-298-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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