THE INVISIBLE WEB

A STORY CELEBRATING LOVE AND UNIVERSAL CONNECTION

Karst and Lew-Vriethoff follow up their picture book about The Invisible String (2018) that connects loved ones over distances and even after death with an extension of the metaphor.

The “hundreds of Strings” that connect each individual “to everyone we know” also “create a nest that covers the planet, / interlacing us together, cradling us forever.” This is the titular Web, depicted in Lew-Vriethoff’s bright cartoons as sweeping colored lines that circle the globe every which way like an ambitious international airline’s route map. It includes humans, animals, plants, and even weather systems: “Everything is linked!” But the Web is only as strong as the people who remember and care for it, and a double-page spread that shows a frightened, pale-skinned family fleeing a burning city on verso for a refugee tent city in a flowered meadow on recto, where a multiracial peace demonstration is also taking place, depicts both the consequences of forgetting and the healing powers of remembering the Web. In going global with her String, Karst has a very difficult time maintaining her metaphor. The notion of a concrete, tangible bond of love is a child-friendly way to imagine relationships, but making those crisscrossing bonds into a Web of mutual responsibility strains the concept. Will writing one’s cousin truly prevent world war? By the end, Karst has gone overboard: “The Invisible Web is alive! / Its time is right now. / It breathes as we breathe, / pulsating all over our Earth, / the single heartbeat / of life and love.”

Hopelessly tangled. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52496-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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