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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A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season.

THE HOUSE OF LOVE

In a big, old house on a snowy hill, the Amore family of nine celebrates Valentine's Day.

Mia Valentina, the youngest family member, and Mama clean the house and decorate for the Amores’ favorite holiday. Then Mia’s mother helps her make thoughtful but funny valentines for her 6 siblings. When Papa and the rest of the clan return home from a basketball game, Mia’s siblings get a kick out of their valentines, and Papa presents Mama with chocolate cherry cordials, but no one gives Mia a gift. While the family has dinner and plays games, Mia’s sadness seemingly goes unnoticed. It’s not until bedtime that she makes a discovery that chases away her gloom. The pages of this book are text-heavy, making it a good springboard for young readers making the transition to chapter books. The light pink pages, cheerful illustrations, and homespun authenticity of the text will appeal to children. The cozy Appalachian mountain setting shines through. Crafty types will glean inspiration to create a gumdrop tree, custom valentines, or themed cupcakes. Mentions of an antique washing machine and patched-up windows establish the Amores as a working-class family. The old house and large family could be read as standard storybook fare or, by more critical readers, as a romanticized image of rural life, and the didactic ending feels old-fashioned. The Amores are White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season. (Illustrated text. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20331-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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