A reassuring message wrapped in rib-tickling humor.


A little boy learns he has nothing to fear from monsters as long as his baby sister is around.

“Everybody knows” that “monsters are afraid of babies!” In this sweet, wacky picture book, motley, frightful monsters become scared when confronted by a boy’s baby sister. As her brother looks on, the googly-eyed, lumpy, toothy, horned beasts of various sizes, shapes, and colors observe his little sister with alarm as she toddles through the house making messes, causing chaos, and bringing the monsters to tears by outdoing their “sticky and icky” and “loud and stinky” ways. Using comedy to calm children’s nighttime fears of monsters in the closet or under the bed and to help them see their maddening, drooling little sibling in a new light, the work is one of a series of three books launching a new publishing imprint by writer, director, and musician Tana (The Kitten, the Cat & the Apple, 2019, etc.). The loosely rhyming text is large and well spaced, and young readers and lapsitters will enjoy repeating the funny sound effects peppered throughout the story (“ERGG…DROOOOO…GUBB”). The team of Abbott and Leutwyler (King of Glee, 2019), which pictures the boy and his sister with beige-ish skin and dark brown eyes and hair—in the baby’s case, just one little curl spiraling up from the top of her head—has great fun with the witty depictions of the sadly intimidated monsters.

A reassuring message wrapped in rib-tickling humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950033-00-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: New Classics Pr Llc

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.


Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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