A charming monster tale with an appealing theme.

NOT SO SCARY JERRY

A not-so-terrifying bedtime monster, inspired by his assigned child, discovers what he really wants to do with his life in this debut picture book.

The narrator, a brown-skinned, black-haired boy with a pet pug, bemoans that his old, scary bedtime monster retired. When Jerry arrives, the green polka-dot–furred, hat-wearing, hug-giving monster is not what the narrator expected. Jerry tries to be scary, pretending to be a ghost, opening his mouth to show his fangs (until he pops his jaw), and slobbering on the narrator’s pillow (which isn’t horrifying, just gross). “You don’t really like this ‘being scary’ stuff, do you?” the narrator asks. At first, Jerry protests—he’s a monster, after all. But in truth, he’d rather be cooking, painting rocks, or thumb wrestling. In fact, telling the narrator about all the fun activities he likes to do motivates him to make a delicious midnight snack for the boy, who decides maybe a different kind of monster is just what he needs. For youngsters worried about creepy things under the bed, there’s little comfort offered here, except that if Jerry exists, perhaps their monsters won’t be scary either. Schafer’s (A Star Full of Sky, 2017) cheerful illustrations, which feature some crayon drawings from the narrator’s perspective, match the story’s tone perfectly; they are never frightening. Kinder makes superb use of dialogue, allowing children to read back and forth between the characters. And the stirring “be yourself” message comes through without being overdone.

A charming monster tale with an appealing theme.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946101-32-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Spork

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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