This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns.

THAT MONSTER ON THE BLOCK

You never know about neighbors.

Monster wonders who’s moving in next door. The new neighbor might be an ogre, goblin, or dragon, so he practices his best welcoming growl. Then, the new owner turns out to be…a clown. Monster calls pals Zombie, Mummy, and Yeti with the news. All steadfastly ignore Clown—because he’s not a monster. Undeterred, Clown introduces himself around to no avail. Clown leaves notes and gifts; still, no one responds. Monster determines to scare him away. Unwittingly, Clown endears himself to the neighbors in the meantime. When Monster confronts his nemesis, he discovers his friends cavorting at Clown’s impromptu circus—and decides to cultivate an open mind. In an unsurprising ending that feels rushed and tacked on, Monster has fun at the circus and invites Clown to a party. During the festivities, a new nonmonster moves into the neighborhood. This time, the newcomer is heartily welcomed, its obvious differences now accepted by everyone. This humorous, fast-paced story, narrated with clipped sentences, conveys an important, unsubtle message about the importance of accepting diversity: The “monster” is one who thinks friends must be similar to them. Type is set in various fonts and colors, heightening visual appeal; lots of onomatopoeic sound effects are incorporated into the text. Highly expressive characters feature in the colorful, comically silly, frenetic illustrations.

This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0533-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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