Funny and spirited (and secretly educational, but nobody will notice).

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EXCLAMATION MARK

Punctuation with pizzazz.

How does an exclamation mark learn his purpose? Pre-readers and readers alike will giggle and cheer to see the process. The setting is a warm yellowish beige background with a faint pulpy pattern and repeating horizontal lines with dotted lines halfway between them—penmanship paper. Each bold, black punctuation mark has a minimalist yet expressive face inside its circular dot. “He stood out,” explains the first page, as the titular protagonist looks on doubtfully. He tries hanging around with periods, but squishing his extension down into a spring doesn’t really work; even prostrate, “he just wasn’t like everyone else. Period.” (Hee! Rosenthal gleefully puns instead of naming any punctuation.) Mournful, “confused, flummoxed, and deflated,” the exclamation mark’s line tangles and flops. Then someone unexpected arrives. “Hello? Who are you?” queries the newbie, jovially pummeling the exclamation mark with 17 manic inquiries at once. “Stop!” screams the exclamation mark in enormous, bumpy-edged letters—and there’s his identity! The outburst’s anxious vibe dissipates immediately (and the question mark is undaunted by being yelled at). Finally, the protagonist has “[broken] free from a life sentence.” Snapping up usages that match his newfound personality, he zooms back to show the other punctuation marks. The zippy relationship between exclamation mark and question mark continues beyond the acknowledgements page.

Funny and spirited (and secretly educational, but nobody will notice). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-43679-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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