Foot-stomping fit pitchers will take multiple timeouts for this amusing modern fable.

Amelia helps a 9-foot blue gorilla named Nilson avoid tantrums by repeatedly reminding him, “No fits, Nilson!”

Chunky, acrylic illustrations depict age-old meltdown triggers: a toppled block tower, uncooperative sneakers that just (eeergh!) won’t get (oof!) on your feet and boring grown-up errands. Cheery matte colors, crisp white spaces and thick black outlines carve out a child’s binary world, in which moods run from hot to cold in a mercurial minute. When Nilson rages, his simian eyes squint, his shoulders hulk, and his mouth spews GAARRRGHH! in oversized, black, block letters. Children will empathize and, thanks to Nilson’s absurdity (this ape wears a newsboy cap, multiple watches and Adidas), see tantrums for what they really are—disproportionate and silly. Amelia, a cutie with hair clips, an inky bob, stripy tights and a monster scooter helmet, seems to always keep her cool…until the ice-cream truck runs out of her favorite banana flavor. Watch out! Readers sigh with relief when Nilson shares his scoop, and another fit is averted; they giggle with unexpected pleasure when Amelia kisses him good night and see that he’s a pint-sized stuffed animal who’s actually been helping her manage her feelings all along.

Foot-stomping fit pitchers will take multiple timeouts for this amusing modern fable. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3852-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013


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

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 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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