This story about thinking for oneself is sweetly quirky and far from saccharine.

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FREDA AND THE BLUE BEETLE

Thanks to an oversized, mute blue beetle, a girl gets a lesson in the importance of following her own advice.

Freda is fed—and ignores—a series of dire warnings from the townsfolk in her small community. She enjoys exploring outdoors, knowing that avoiding their dogmatic advice leads to “wonderful discoveries.” She befriends a broken-winged beetle, giving it food, companionship, and a name. Ernest heals, grows in size and strength, and assists in the fields. When the townsfolk tire of his need for sustenance and wrongly accuse him of a crime, Freda sadly escorts Ernest out of town. Gilmore takes the townsfolk’s paranoia to an extreme (if you swim there, carp will eat you, they declare) to accentuate her point about the value of heeding one’s own instincts. Freda, feeling shame for having bowed to ridiculous demands, remembers that sometimes we should “listen to ourselves.” Gilmore’s palette is a muted, earth-toned one save for the bright cobalt blue of Ernest. Freda is an olive-skinned girl, and the townsfolk are primarily white with some diversity included—a couple of dark-skinned people, a woman who could be Asian, and a man in a turban. In the end, not only does Freda remember to follow her heart, but Ernest also saves the day in this oddball tale. (Insects that grow larger than humans, anyone?)

This story about thinking for oneself is sweetly quirky and far from saccharine. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-381-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws.

PLEASE DON'T EAT ME

A bunny negotiates with a bear to avoid becoming lunch.

Burrowing along happily through the soil, a tiny white rabbit is stopped short by the beauty of a daisy. Unfortunately, a bear steps out from behind a tree at precisely the same moment. There’s no mistaking the bunny’s disappointment at the timing of the situation: “Aw, nuts.” The bear is hungry, so the quick-thinking rabbit proposes ordering a pizza. The pair share a pie, but before the bunny can leave, Bear muses, “It just doesn’t feel like a meal without dessert.” Will the bunny be dessert?! No. A chuckleworthy page turn reveals the two sharing a milkshake with giant twisty straws. Bear has many other ways of delaying the bunny’s departure until finally, the bunny loses patience: “Fine. That’s it! Just eat me already!” Flopped on a bed of greens, the bunny presents itself as a meal. But Bear has another option—perhaps they could be friends instead. The dumpy little rabbit mirrors Bear’s rotund frame; both state their arguments with deadpan precision. However, via tiny adjustments in body language, Climo masterfully includes a ton of expression behind the two protagonists’ tiny dotted eyes. Minimalist cartoon backgrounds keep the focus on the developing relationship.

Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31525-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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