A story with a good ecological message and vibrant paintings that falls short by omitting context.

YARA'S TAWARI TREE

In this latest picture-book series entry, Lapid (Mother’s Day With Snowman Paul, 2018, etc.) offers strong couplets about a girl and a tree saving each other, and returning illustrator Pasek highlights the bright colors of its tropical setting.

A small tawari sapling is threatened by bulldozers and fires that are clearing the forest. Yara, a young Indigenous girl, comes to its rescue. The sapling grows quickly to become a tree that Yara (who appears to still be the same age) can climb. One day, when Yara becomes very ill, her mother brings an elder to their home to make a diagnosis. The elder laments that there once was a tree that could provide her with a remedy, but it may now be extinct. Savvy readers will be unsurprised that Yara’s tawari tree is the very one that she needs to cure her sickness, thus repaying her kindness. Lapid’s message—that humans need the rainforest as much as the rainforest needs them to save it—comes through clearly in Yara and the tree’s personal connection. Unfortunately, with no author’s note and an unnamed setting, it’s hard to gauge the authenticity of Pasek’s apparently Amazon-inspired images or Lapid’s cultural descriptions.

A story with a good ecological message and vibrant paintings that falls short by omitting context.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9973899-5-1

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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