RAJ'S RULE (FOR THE BATHROOM AT SCHOOL)

Author and educator Button offers a sympathetic treatment of a common but rarely depicted childhood anxiety.

Young Raj’s rule is to avoid the school bathroom at all costs. To execute, this kid has strategies: no juice at lunch, no trips to the water fountain, no active play at recess, no laughing. Posture is critical. It all seems pretty grim, but Raj knows how to spin it: “Here’s a great game—squeeze your knees tight, / and don’t use the bathroom with all of your might.” Button’s verse is unexceptional, but it gets the job done and even slyly prompts audience participation in a moment that will definitely spark giggles: “Steer clear of Kyle. He’s too funny—trust me. / That guy gets you laughing so hard you might….” A sneeze drives Raj to the bathroom in spite of everything, however, leading to unaccustomed comfort and the revelation that maybe it’s not such a bad place to do business after all. “I feel different,” Raj remarks and then proceeds to live dangerously, enjoying both juice and the water fountain, playing at recess, and even laughing at Kyle’s jokes. Aly’s cartoons depict Raj with brown skin and a puffy, dark-brown coif. Classmates are thoughtfully diverse, including some chubby kids as well as a couple who wear glasses and another who uses a wheelchair.

Sweet relief. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-340-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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