Whimsical, playful verse perfect for reading aloud, with charming illustrations.

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PODGE

Ross offers light children’s verse in the manner of an extra-goofy Mother Goose.

What is a Podge? According to an opening verse, it’s “a Hodgeless Hodgepodge, / a pile of who knows what.” As such, it’s an appropriate title for this miscellany of children’s verse; even its organization is rather unorganized, consisting of three short sections: “THE SHALL-WE’S,” “MISHAPS of NO GREAT IMPORT,” and “THREE UNCLES and ONE ANT.” The entries within the three sections have individual titles also, as do all the remaining verses, which have no general headings. Despite the overall nonsense style, a few verses have a more serious undertone, like “The Puddle,” which starts off the first section. “Shall we jump in the puddle? / Of course. We have no choice. / There it is, and here we are, / still smart enough to trust the voice / telling us that we must.” Heeding an inner voice isn’t usually the stuff of nursery rhymes; however, such musings don’t characterize the collection, which soon becomes reliably lighthearted. A notable feature of the book is its array of silly names—Bingwen Ding, Gropius Gribble Houghton Huff, or the Blithering Blobulous Blabberoon. Place names can be correspondingly silly, as in Floopston and Gloopston. The book’s nonsense often recalls nursery rhymes, sometimes directly, but with fresh images or a contemporary spin: “Dom, Dom, the piper’s dog / lived a week in a hollow log”; “Little Bo Peep has lost her Jeep, / so now she cannot drive and beep.” Some verses seem to demand a Dr. Seuss­–like book of their own, such as “The Land Where the Scropalongs Roam,” which begins with these wonderfully adventurous lines: “Parkie O’Clapp found an old secret map / of The Land Where the Scropalongs Roam. / He set out one day in his Anteater Sleigh, / and chauffeured them back to his home.” However, the piece doesn’t really explore its premise, and several two-line verses in the collection feel similarly unfinished.

Though most characters seem to be White, there are some of color, such as “Nkechi Nkele,” a dark-skinned girl with a beaded hairstyle who sits on a cloud with a ginger-striped cat. Or is she actually sitting on a bed? “Maybe you are one of the few / who know that both of those are true.” Illustrator Wansink, a Belgian artist who calls herself a “builder of Dreams and Fairytales,” has exhibited her work in a Netherlands art gallery. The illustrations in this, her first children’s book, are reminiscent of painter Raoul Dufy’s faux naïve style, rendered in chalky yet vibrant colors. Her comical images, smiling people and animals, child’s-drawing proportions, and general sense of fun enrich the text. For example, the “Flying Flapjack on the Loose” does go astray, reappearing in “Here it Comes Again” and showing up without explanation in between verses, very much on the loose. Some images are reused with a few changes, such as Old Flopp on the railway platform or a soup-stirring cook.

Whimsical, playful verse perfect for reading aloud, with charming illustrations.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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