Yet another outing that will have readers empathizing with and maybe emulating Love Monster.

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LOVE MONSTER AND THE SCARY SOMETHING

From the Love Monster series

The lovable red monster is back, this time facing something all young children will find familiar: nighttime noise fears.

Even though it’s “past bedtime o’clock” in Cutesville and Love Monster has gone through his bedtime routine, he’s still awake, and the harder he tries to sleep, “the later and darker and spookier it got.” (His clock marvelously marks off, at 12, 3, 6, and 9 respectively, “Bedtime,” “Late,” “Dark,” and “Spooky.”) He can hear the clock ticking, the wind in the leaves, the owls. But what’s that rustle? It seems to move from the yard to downstairs, and the bang certainly means that it has gotten inside! Now he can hear its “terrible, twisterly toenails” on the floor, then coming up the stairs. Love Monster just can’t take it anymore. “Somehow, hiding from THE SOMETHING outside…got harder than finding something brave INSIDE.” A fling of the covers and a flick of the flashlight reveal another Cutesville resident who couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to be alone. Snuggles, conquering fears, and, finally, sleep bring the night to a close. Bright’s text and her illustrations perfectly capture the terrifying, compounding fear of being alone at night, hearing an unfamiliar noise, and jumping to wild conclusions. The mostly full-page spreads play up Love Monster’s fears and feelings, and Bright uses light and darkness to good effect.

Yet another outing that will have readers empathizing with and maybe emulating Love Monster. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-34691-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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