Great for sharing with parents’ own baddies and fairy-tale lovers alike.

GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES

Fairy tales and fractured fairy tales always focus on the good guys (or reform the bad guys). Finally, here’s a sweet bedtime story featuring the baddies.

There is not a hint of menace in either Underwood’s gently rhyming verse or Kangas’ beautifully detailed watercolor-and–oil wash illustrations. “Sun dips down; the day has gone. / Witches, wolves, and giants yawn. / Queen and dragon, troll and gnome: / tired baddies head for home.” Home is a stone castle, where they catch up on news, share a meal together (using good manners—even baddies need a break from being bad), undress and unwind from the day, and tuck one another in. It is both refreshing and comforting to know that baddies, no matter how vile they may be during the day, are human (-ish) at heart and have the same needs, wants, and fears as readers (sometimes literally—Giant is afraid a princess might lurk under his bed). (All the humanoid characters are white.) From striped and flowered pajamas to troll’s bubble bath and the books so many of the baddies are clearly enjoying, this is familiar and sweet, unlike baddies’ usual reputations, and children will delight in picking out familiar props and characters from beloved tales.

Great for sharing with parents’ own baddies and fairy-tale lovers alike. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0984-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time.

SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED

Which cottage would stand out more in a real estate ad: cute or…haunted?

Clarissa the sentient cottage dislikes cuteness; as a pink, adorable haven for flowers and squirrels, she’s bored. She yearns to be scary and haunted like her father, a gloomy castle, and her mother, a smelly, vermin-infested witch’s hut. Dad gladly donates clouds but tells Clarissa it’s OK to be herself. The clouds are a bust because they bring rain, which brings forth…a rainbow, plants, and birds. Mom supplies a reeking bottle whose contents allegedly repel living things. Clarissa opens it but…attracts playful dogs. Finally abandoning her desire for a ghostly boarder, Clarissa invites her animals to remain. At the end, a particular creature’s unexpected arrival—and its most uncharacteristic behavior—reveal Clarissa’s true nature: horrible and cute. And she’s just fine with that. This rhyming story is certainly an unusual take on the finding-oneself trope. The bouncy verses mostly read and scan well, include sophisticated vocabulary, and provide Clarissa with a spunky, appealing personality. Different typefaces represent the voices of Clarissa, each parent, and the narrator. The cheerful, lively illustrations are very colorful but a trifle twee; Clarissa and her parents are differentiated through vivid pinks, dreary shades, and anthropomorphic faces. Nature blossoms via bright depictions of flowers, trees, animals, and birds.

Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns.

THAT MONSTER ON THE BLOCK

You never know about neighbors.

Monster wonders who’s moving in next door. The new neighbor might be an ogre, goblin, or dragon, so he practices his best welcoming growl. Then, the new owner turns out to be…a clown. Monster calls pals Zombie, Mummy, and Yeti with the news. All steadfastly ignore Clown—because he’s not a monster. Undeterred, Clown introduces himself around to no avail. Clown leaves notes and gifts; still, no one responds. Monster determines to scare him away. Unwittingly, Clown endears himself to the neighbors in the meantime. When Monster confronts his nemesis, he discovers his friends cavorting at Clown’s impromptu circus—and decides to cultivate an open mind. In an unsurprising ending that feels rushed and tacked on, Monster has fun at the circus and invites Clown to a party. During the festivities, a new nonmonster moves into the neighborhood. This time, the newcomer is heartily welcomed, its obvious differences now accepted by everyone. This humorous, fast-paced story, narrated with clipped sentences, conveys an important, unsubtle message about the importance of accepting diversity: The “monster” is one who thinks friends must be similar to them. Type is set in various fonts and colors, heightening visual appeal; lots of onomatopoeic sound effects are incorporated into the text. Highly expressive characters feature in the colorful, comically silly, frenetic illustrations.

This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0533-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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