Make time to share with young monsters everywhere.

READ REVIEW

THE MONSTERS' MONSTER

Tiny Grouch, Grump and Gloom ’n’ Doom (who has two heads) continually bicker about who is the most impressive monster. When the solution they come up with turns out to be different from what they expected, a surprising but welcome lesson is eventually learned.

Caldecott Honor winner McDonnell (Me…Jane, 2011) produces a special tale that seamlessly blends an engaging text, gentle humor and skillful illustrations that readers of all ages can appreciate. The monstrous trio smash, crash and bash about, and a black cloud literally hangs over the castle where they live. A coordinated stroke of genius leads them to “make a MONSTER monster. The biggest, baddest monster EVER!” “[S]ome tape, tacks, staples, and glue…some gunk, gauze, and gobs of goo… [and] bolts, wire and a smelly old shoe” form a huge creature that comes to life via lightning strike. But instead of making a scary, intimidating monster, they have brought to life a sweet, polite, life-loving being whose first words are “Dank you!” Soon, the small threesome finds they cannot change their creation’s pleasant nature—he repeatedly blurts out his favorite phrase—and learns that respectful, mannerly companionship can lead to fulfilling and sunny results…like watching the sunrise at the beach while sharing jelly doughnuts. The story charms, but it is the overall thoughtful design that makes this a frightfully amazing book to read.

Make time to share with young monsters everywhere. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-04547-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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