Occasional badness has never been so good.

MUSTACHE BABY

Outlaw or lawman…the mustache will reveal the truth!

“When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd: / He had a mustache.” When they ask the nurse what it could mean, she answers that they’ll have to wait to “see whether it turns out to be a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache.” At first, Billy’s a cowboy, protecting his cattle (teddy bear) from attack (by the family dog) and caring for injured animals (his torn bear). Obviously a good-guy mustache! He becomes a “ringleader. A Spanish painter. A sword fighter. And finally… / A man of the law.” But as he grows into toddlerhood, his mustache begins to curl at the ends and becomes a bad-guy mustache! After some cat burglary, “cereal” crime and train robbery (including the track), he’s caught and thrown in jail (a barred crib). After ages, his mother busts him out, and his parents explain that everyone has “a bad-mustache day” every once in a while. Heos’ simple and silly metaphorical tale of the terrible twos will definitely entertain parents and children older than Billy. Twos will, at least, giggle over every page of the digitally created, jewel-eyed, cartoon illustrations, with their mix of Saturday-morning slapstick, dramatic comic-book angles and mustachioed babies.

Occasional badness has never been so good. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-77357-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.

ELBOW GREASE VS. MOTOZILLA

Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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