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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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