A stunning, dreamlike voyage into the heart of a child.

OCEAN MEETS SKY

A young boy adventures into a fantastical realm, where ocean meets sky and the spirit of his grandfather lives on.

Finn, who lives by the sea, remembers his grandpa: his voice, his sayings, his extraordinary stories. To honor him, Finn builds a boat on the beach, creating a wonderful fort out of flotsam and jetsam. While asleep in his creation, the lonely boy dreams of a mustachioed golden fish, which leads him through wondrous surroundings. Whales swim among the stars, and celestial ships intermingle with zeppelins and subs. But it’s the fish that must be followed, as it transforms into the moon and reveals itself to be Finn’s grandfather, a benevolent Asian face illuminating the child’s world. Just as Finn begins to say goodbye, he hears his mother calling him home with the promise of a dumpling supper. Graphite renderings, digitally colored in a cool palette, recall hand-tinted etchings. Dazzling spreads, full of texture and detail, offer much for readers to explore. Inspiration from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and David Wiesner’s Flotsam can be seen in both story and art. However, the Fan Brothers’ approach to loss, healing, and intergenerational relationships makes this a unique and refreshing offering.

A stunning, dreamlike voyage into the heart of a child. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7037-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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