An enchanting love letter to the magic of childhood and the fertile relationship between good literature and young readers’...

ROBINSON

Sís takes readers on a journey to a Slumberland-esque island that reinforces the joys of storytelling and would make Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo proud.

In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the author pays homage to his literary forbears and allows readers to experience the seductive imaginative power that enables readers to disappear into and embody the stories they love. The protagonist—based on Sís himself—and his friends (a multiethnic group) love nothing more than playing at being pirates. When their school hosts a costume contest, the white boy’s mother convinces him to dress as Robinson Crusoe, his favorite hero, instead of a pirate. Like Michael Ende’s Bastian Balthazar Bux, the boy is teased for daring to be different and escapes into his imagination to find courage and adventure. As the sepia tones of the real world give way to the luxuriant, water-colored dreamscape, readers will lose themselves in the lush greens of the trees used to build the protagonist’s forest home and long to swim in the deep blue water swirling around the island paradise (populated only by friendly animals—no Man Friday here). Experimentation in different artistic styles further enhances the creativity and otherworldly quality of Sís’ landscape. The author’s note at the end also proves delightful.

An enchanting love letter to the magic of childhood and the fertile relationship between good literature and young readers’ imaginations. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-73166-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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