A stimulating and funny fantasy about acceptance.

THE GHOUL

The story of Hasan, a young and courageous boy from a small village who decides to brave the unknown.

Inspired by Arab folklore, the story revolves around life in a quiet and peaceful village somewhere in Arabia, where the only thing disturbing the surrounding peace is the ghoul living up the mountain—a monster everyone dreads and fears. While nobody has actually seen it, all the villagers are worried that it might eat children, so they tiptoe and whisper lest they draw its attention. Perplexed by the idea of a monster that nobody has seen or heard, Hasan decides to defy his parents and investigate for himself. To his surprise, he finds a creature that is just as afraid of humans as they are of it, an estranged being who will not venture down the mountain out of fear of these humans who look so much different. After sharing their mutual misconceptions, Hasan and the ghoul realize that they can still be friends despite their differences. Children will giggle at both the ghoul’s physical ridiculousness (it looks like a shaggy purple cyclops with an endearingly goofy grin) and the colloquy that reveals important truths: “But…ghouls are vegetarians.” This Jordanian import has great potential to serve caregivers and educators in facilitating discussions about perceiving—and more importantly, accepting—the “other” despite differences and initial assumptions.

A stimulating and funny fantasy about acceptance. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-925-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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