Mel’s and Mo’s seemingly silly professions make for an amusing approach to teamwork.

MEL AND MO'S MARVELOUS BALANCING ACT

Identical twins prove the value of compromise.

Although Mel and Mo look alike, the identical twins have little in common. An escalation in contrast that begins with Mel’s preference for reading a book inside on a rainy day and Mo’s partiality to enjoying catching rays on a sunny day ultimately finds the twins disagreeing all the time and growing further apart. Clues in the patterned illustrations hint at the twins’ future—and separate—professions. Mel takes over the family umbrella business, while Mo runs away to join a circus, becoming a unicyclist with performing poodles on a high-wire act. Most picture books about twins would end here, celebrating their individuality, but Winstanley continues this story with another theme. After both twins find years of success, Theodora Tweedle’s Spectacular Raincoats and Roller Skates comes to town, and soon no one wants umbrellas or to watch a unicyclist. Mel fails to sell bigger umbrellas, and Mo’s increasingly elaborate tricks all end in falling. But one day when Mel visits Mo, who is struggling to stay balanced, the twins realize what the act needs—an umbrella! They discover they can combine their different strengths to make a strong team, and even invite Theodora to join them for a brand-new Roller-Skate Umbrella Circus. The twins, who are white, are not identified with gender-specific names, clothes, physical features, or pronouns.

Mel’s and Mo’s seemingly silly professions make for an amusing approach to teamwork. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-324-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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