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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Lots for young readers to see and count.

HAVE YOU SEEN MY DRAGON?

A little boy has misplaced his pet dragon and must search for him all over the city, counting up from one dragon to 20 lanterns.

Black line pen-and-ink drawings in finely patterned detail depict a vital, lively New York City of the imagination. Colored-pencil images on each double-page spread are reserved for the city-specific items to be counted along the way, and the endpapers depict a loosely interpreted map indicating the sites. Readers first meet the adventurous dragon in all his greenness, as he is, of course, the representative of the number one. As he moves about the city, the unnamed little boy hypothesizes the locations at which he might find his pet. He is quite accurate in his guesses, but the dragon seems to be a master at blending in to the background, mysteriously having lost his color. But there are things to count, like two pink hot dogs in brown buns, three purple buses and four blue sailboats on the river, all the way up to 20 red lanterns in Chinatown, where he finally spots the dragon, “[r]ight where I left him.” If this is an attempt at reminding young readers that the dragon is imaginary, it’s a bit of an anticlimax, and it takes a great deal of the fun out of the previous travels around the city. But the visual appeal overcomes it all.

Lots for young readers to see and count. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6648-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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