Unpleasant…unless you love truly gross humor.

READ REVIEW

A IS FOR APPLE, UNLESS . . .

Hold your nose while two siblings take readers from A to Z.

Rendered with oversized heads on small bodies, the pale, dark-haired siblings assign a word to each letter of the alphabet in seemingly conventional fashion (“A is for Apple”), but each entry is followed by an “unless…” or its semantic equivalent: “unless you’re being chased / by a bloodsucking vampire, / then A is for AAAAAAGGHHH!!!” The insolent, petulant short-haired sibling is fond of sister-taunting, chasing her in a vampire costume and, later, scaring her with a dangling reptile when “S is for Snake.” The same child also throws a fit to get some ice cream, informing readers, “if you scream loud enough (and long enough), you’ll probably get some.” There’s a heavy dose of potty humor—instances of “doo-doo,” poop, pee, (lots of) farting, and undies—as well as repeated vomiting and nose-picking. Some of the entries are a stretch, making for a disjointed text: A monkey suddenly appears when “M is for Monkey / unless you have mountains of money. / Then M can be for whatever you want.” Per abecedary best practices, the capital and lowercase versions of each letter are included, but the book is primarily about grubby horseplay and mean-spirited pranks, not so much for teaching phonemic awareness or building vocabulary. Aiming for irreverent and mischievous, the book meets those marks, but little about the story or characters is likable. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Unpleasant…unless you love truly gross humor. (Picture book. 5-8.)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944903-97-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers.

LOUIS

A hug is a powerful thing.

Louis, a stuffed teddy bear, has grievances: His owner, a dark-haired kid with light-brown skin, has mistreated Louis in a variety of ways, including using the bear as a hankie, burying the toy in the sand, and subjecting him to the terrors of the washing machine. After Louis suffers the final indignity—almost being left behind on public transportation—the bear plans to make his escape. Savvy readers may surmise that Louis’ heart isn’t completely in this grand departure, as the teddy delays based on rain, cupcake-filled tea parties, and being the star of show-and-tell due to bravery during the bus incident. When the perfect moment to desert finally arrives, a last-minute hug helps Louis realize how much the kid loves and appreciates him. It’s a charming, genuinely sweet ending to a well-crafted story that leaves lots of openings for Rowan-Zoch’s boldly colored, crisp cartoon artwork to deliver a vibrant pop that will be appreciated in both large storytimes and intimate lap reads. Louis is marvelously expressive, panicking, glaring, and unexpectedly softening by turns. Caregivers and educators may see an opportunity in the story to engage in creative writing or storytelling based on the readers’ own favorite stuffed friends. Louis’ owner’s mom appears in one scene wearing a salwar kameez, suggesting the family is of South Asian heritage.

Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-49806-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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