Sturdy children, particularly those with siblings, will respond to the starkness of emotions expressed. (Picture book. 3-6)

ERIC, THE BOY WHO LOST HIS GRAVITY

In a challenge to tales in which children rise in the air when elated, Eric and his toddler sister, Alice, both float upward when “very angry.” Happiness literally re-grounds them.

The turf is familiar enough at the opening double-page spread: a nuclear family inside their domicile on a rainy day, with Eric happily pushing a train along railroad tracks and Alice approaching him with her toy bunny. It’s all clearly happened before. Alice pesters Eric, then Eric is blamed for upsetting Alice. This leads to Eric’s angry elevation and eventual entrapment in a tree. There are pleasing, unexpected touches: Their mom reads the newspaper while their dad irons; the paper has metafictive headlines referring to both this book and another by the author; there is an excellent aerial view of the room from Eric’s new perspective. Throughout, a combination of watercolor, collage and stark pencil lines complement a text that combines simple sentences in a sans-serif typeface with additional penned-in words, as in a series of “AARGH”s that follow a simultaneous succession of angry Erics slowly losing gravity. The story ends in a sweet sibling reunion, as Eric restores to Alice her beloved bunny. Although this book has much to offer, the darkly scrawled marks that represent facial expressions are often grotesque; furious, jagged mouths express the children’s anger.

Sturdy children, particularly those with siblings, will respond to the starkness of emotions expressed. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60905-348-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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