It is oh-so-easy for readers to get caught up in both Tony’s infectious excitement and his terrible woes; this should be...

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YO HO HO, HALLOWEEN!

From the Tony Baloney series

Ryan and Fotheringham once again nail the early-elementary mindset, this time looking at Halloween costumes through Tony Baloney’s eyes.

This year, the macaroni penguin wants to stand out at the school’s Halloween parade, rather than wearing a hand-me-down costume or matching the Bothersome Babies Baloney, so he uses all his savings to purchase an epic pre-made pirate costume. He loves it so much that “he wears it a few minutes a day, or every second of all weekend,” despite his family’s warnings. And sure enough….The pants rip while playing soccer, the hat he left out gets used as a sled by the Bothersome Babies, the sword is confiscated at school, he leaves the eye patch and the parrot (whom stuffed-animal Dandelion wants to marry) at the dentist’s, and the hook gets run over by the garbage truck. When he tells his family, he expects a well-deserved “I told you so,” but instead he gets a parley and a rallying. Each family member contributes items for a new pirate costume; even Dandelion has a part to play. And Tony definitely stands out. Fotheringham’s digital vignettes and double-page spreads are filled with bold primary colors against white backgrounds, making it easy for newly independent readers to handle the text.

It is oh-so-easy for readers to get caught up in both Tony’s infectious excitement and his terrible woes; this should be necessary reading before making costume decisions. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-90885-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday.

ABC PASSOVER HUNT

An alphabet book employs a series of riddles and puzzles to engage children in the recognition of the various aspects of the Passover holiday.

An initial search to find all the letters in a double-page illustration features a typical table set for the Seder meal. This is followed by 24 rhymed questions posed in alphabetical order that present a variety of customs, symbols, characters, and concepts of the holiday. For example, the letter B is represented by “Baby Moses,” and readers are asked to choose the correct boat used to float the baby on the Nile. Children are offered a multiple-choice assortment of picture clues that are drawn in a clear, simple cartoon style. In the case of Moses, the vessels include a leaf, a cardboard box, a woven basket, an inner tube, a rowboat, and a rubber ducky. Some of the inquiries are straightforward or obvious for the holiday, while others, such as the page that addresses slavery, require some thinking and possible discussion. A variety of methods are also used to achieve the answers, such as solving a maze and reading a map. Others may require actual knowledge of the subject posed, such as the one on the 15th of Nisan, the Hebrew day and month that Passover begins. Together these short games can be used as an impetus to discuss the holiday's story and significance or to retell its various aspects.

A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday. (author’s note, answer key) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7843-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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