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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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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