A valuable lesson in friendship, with walking pickles on the side

READ REVIEW

IRA CRUMB MAKES A PRETTY GOOD FRIEND

Ira Crumb is “trustworthy, super helpful, and also really fun to be around”—but, having just moved, he is also “The New Kid.”

All Ira’s considerable confidence is put to the test by the prospect of having no friends on the first day of school. He decides to take pre-emptive action and “make friends BEFORE the first day of school.” Campaign signs and a lemonade stand attract attention, but learning that he’s serving pickles with his cheese sandwiches turns off potential friends. (The pickle’s frowny face echoes Ira’s dismay as the kids walk away.) A dance-off also fails to win him a friend, as does displaying huge quantities of cool. Readers will notice that one kid, a light-blue rabbit, seems interested in meeting Ira; his friendly overture goes for naught when Ira thinks his sandwich is talking to him instead. But on the first day of school, the rabbit, whose name is Malcolm, clears up the confusion, and a friendship is born. Hrab’s debut comes packed with wry whimsy that’s ably matched by Holinaty’s visuals. His characters are notably diverse, including talking animals such as Malcolm and animate foodstuffs as well as humans; Ira himself is a brown-skinned boy with a poof of black hair under his hoodie. The figures’ video-game aesthetic humorously emphasizes Ira’s competitive approach to friendship.

A valuable lesson in friendship, with walking pickles on the side . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77147-171-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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