A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them.

TRAP THE MONSTER!

Children turn the tables on an impressive array of not-too-scary monsters in this interactive celebration of toddler empowerment imported from France.

Young readers show a big bad wolf, a toothy sea serpent, a furry four-eyed monster, a vampire, and a growling ogre who’s boss in this clever board book. Each four-page encounter begins, on verso, with the question, “If you are afraid of this [wolf/monster/etc.]…”; this is followed by the instruction to “…turn the page…” on recto. On the page to be turned is a die-cut pattern. Four rectangular cutouts that serve as tree trunks on recto prove to be the bars of a jail cell in which the wolf from the previous spread is imprisoned on verso, for example. The facing page exclaims, “You sent it to jail! Now lock the door with the key.” Similarly, an enormous “sea dragon” menaces a boat with a die-cut sail in one scene, but after a turn of the page, the dragon’s startled head peers out from under the lid of a simmering pot on a stovetop. “Good job! You put it in a pot! Now you can cook it with potatoes!” Cartoonishly rendered characters with big eyes, outsized jaws and teeth, and lots of personality provide the perfect blend of ferocity and silliness. Bright colors and the clever cutout gimmicks add visual appeal.

A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72820-945-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance.

BECAUSE I'M YOUR DAD

Unabashed sentimentality dominates the text in this loving promise from a father to his child.

What saves this title from being just a syrupy pronouncement are the characters. Santat has good fun creating scenes for two hairy, horned monsters, the dad pickle green and the child a pleasing purple. The somewhat cuddly pair is comically shown participating in their less-than-ordinary activities like “having spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the bathtub.” They play with robots, listen to really loud music, burp like champions and miss school to visit New York to share a hot dog. Readers will smile at the low-key humor in the pictures. The page stating, “Because I’m your dad, you can sometimes stay up late with me to watch TV” depicts the father asleep while the child sits on the sofa terrified by what is on the screen. Warm moments abound, as when little monster is rolled up by her father in a blanket like a burrito or when the dad checks the closet and under the bed for monsters. Zappa wrote this story for his daughter, and it overflows with genuine fatherly affection that he would like to pass on, since his father (avant-garde rocker Frank Zappa) did the same for him.

Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4774-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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