Winner of the 2017 Jarul Book Children’s Choice Award in India, this kind and playful book may help young readers like Avi...

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THE NIGHT MONSTER

Avi fears the monster that scares him at night, so his older sister, Swati, suggests solutions to help him deal with that fear in this Indian import.

He tries drawing the monster on a piece of paper and locking it in a box, but that doesn’t work. Swati then recommends writing a letter to the monster, and lo and behold, the monster writes back, its letter tucked under Avi’s pillow by morning and signed “Not a Night Monster.” So begins a correspondence between Avi and the Night Monster. Avi writes to the Night Monster that it scares him with shadows, hooting noises, moving curtains. The Night Monster explains that it doesn’t want to scare Avi, going on to tell him about shadows that play with each other, the owl that hoots, and the wind that “likes to make the curtains dance.” Two letters are in a lift-the-flap form, while the rest of them are in standard format. Striking mixed-media illustrations in a dark blue palette provide a strong sense of Avi’s fear. They create an ambiance that works well with the spare text, just scary enough for older preschoolers and early elementary–age kids. The illustrations show both siblings with dark hair and pale skin. The rather abrupt ending reveals that Swati has secretly written the Night Monster’s letters to help Avi combat his fear of the dark.

Winner of the 2017 Jarul Book Children’s Choice Award in India, this kind and playful book may help young readers like Avi to understand and overcome this nearly universal childhood fear. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-81-8190-331-0

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Karadi Tales

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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