BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER

An exasperated big sister learns to love her little monster of a sibling by finding her own inner monster.

Lucy has had it with her little sister’s behavior. Mia, who like Lucy is white, always seems underfoot and over-the-top. When Lucy finally loses her temper and calls Mia a “little monster,” Mia disappears. Mia’s reaction to her sister’s rejection isn’t depicted, but at first, Lucy is clearly delighted and revels in time to herself. But a shift in palette from bright to dull, as well as in the tone of the text, signals Lucy’s quick change of heart: “after a while, it felt quiet. Very quiet. TOO QUIET. No one followed Lucy’s lead.” So Lucy sets out to find Mia and discovers a secret doorway in her little sister’s room that leads to a land of monsters. Fotheringham’s style shifts from something akin to Jules Feiffer’s to something more like Ed Emberley’s here, with brightly colored, cartoonish, goggly-eyed monsters cavorting with Mia against a black background. Mia seems perfectly content, and not only do the monsters reject Lucy’s attempts to wrest Mia away, they reject her, too: “ ‘YOU’RE NOT A LITTLE MONSTER,’ they howled. ‘GO AWAY!’ ” But Lucy stands firm and liberates her inner monster with a fit of rage that sends the monsters scurrying away. Mia happily rejoins her in the real world, where their rivalry gives way to sisterly revelry.

Monstrous sisterly fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-83192-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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There’s always tomorrow.

TOMORROW IS WAITING

A lyrical message of perseverance and optimism.

The text uses direct address, which the title- and final-page illustrations suggest comes from an adult voice, to offer inspiration and encouragement. The opening spreads reads, “Tonight as you sleep, a new day stirs. / Each kiss good night is a wish for tomorrow,” as the accompanying art depicts a child with black hair and light skin asleep in a bed that’s fantastically situated in a stylized landscape of buildings, overpasses, and roadways. The effect is dreamlike, in contrast with the next illustration, of a child of color walking through a field and blowing dandelion fluff at sunrise. Until the last spread, each child depicted in a range of settings is solitary. Some visual metaphors falter in terms of credibility, as in the case of a white-appearing child using a wheelchair in an Antarctic ice cave strewn with obstacles, as the text reads “you’ll explore the world, only feeling lost in your imagination.” Others are oblique in attempted connections between text and art. How does a picture of a pale-skinned, black-haired child on a bridge in the rain evoke “first moments that will dance with you”? But the image of a child with pink skin and brown hair scaling a wall as text reads “there will be injustice that will challenge you, and it will surprise you how brave you can be” is clearer.

There’s always tomorrow. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99437-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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