Even if it doesn’t send kids straight off to dreamland, it will keep them looking; snuggled close with a grown-up, that’s...

EVEN MONSTERS NEED TO SLEEP

Rhyming text and detailed, fantastic art invite readers to follow along with little monster’s bedtime reading.

The bedtime routine begins on wraparound jacket art that shows a little blue monster clad in a pink nightgown running away to the right on the front cover from her father, who pursues her from the back cover. In the frontmatter pages she first runs away toward the page turn on the title page and then is dragged, crying, into the book proper from the recto dedication page. The first page of the book proper shows her now calm and cuddled up in bed with her dad reading a book. Ensuing pages appear to be from the book they’re reading as they depict a series of fantastic creatures heading off to bed. The verse is usually written as three rhyming lines, with a fourth line breaking the rhyme and reading “Even Bigfoot needs to sleep” but substituting the word “Bigfoot” with “dragons” or “bridge trolls” or “giants” and so on. The gouache illustrations employ a saturated, vivid palette that isn’t at all restful in busy compositions filled with detail (three-legged ET’s in union suits; Frankenstein’s playful kitten). But moments like the spare, wordless final page or the spreads depicting a Yeti and a giant help give rest for the eyes.

Even if it doesn’t send kids straight off to dreamland, it will keep them looking; snuggled close with a grown-up, that’s not all bad. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236640-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance.

BECAUSE I'M YOUR DAD

Unabashed sentimentality dominates the text in this loving promise from a father to his child.

What saves this title from being just a syrupy pronouncement are the characters. Santat has good fun creating scenes for two hairy, horned monsters, the dad pickle green and the child a pleasing purple. The somewhat cuddly pair is comically shown participating in their less-than-ordinary activities like “having spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the bathtub.” They play with robots, listen to really loud music, burp like champions and miss school to visit New York to share a hot dog. Readers will smile at the low-key humor in the pictures. The page stating, “Because I’m your dad, you can sometimes stay up late with me to watch TV” depicts the father asleep while the child sits on the sofa terrified by what is on the screen. Warm moments abound, as when little monster is rolled up by her father in a blanket like a burrito or when the dad checks the closet and under the bed for monsters. Zappa wrote this story for his daughter, and it overflows with genuine fatherly affection that he would like to pass on, since his father (avant-garde rocker Frank Zappa) did the same for him.

Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4774-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them.

TRAP THE MONSTER!

Children turn the tables on an impressive array of not-too-scary monsters in this interactive celebration of toddler empowerment imported from France.

Young readers show a big bad wolf, a toothy sea serpent, a furry four-eyed monster, a vampire, and a growling ogre who’s boss in this clever board book. Each four-page encounter begins, on verso, with the question, “If you are afraid of this [wolf/monster/etc.]…”; this is followed by the instruction to “…turn the page…” on recto. On the page to be turned is a die-cut pattern. Four rectangular cutouts that serve as tree trunks on recto prove to be the bars of a jail cell in which the wolf from the previous spread is imprisoned on verso, for example. The facing page exclaims, “You sent it to jail! Now lock the door with the key.” Similarly, an enormous “sea dragon” menaces a boat with a die-cut sail in one scene, but after a turn of the page, the dragon’s startled head peers out from under the lid of a simmering pot on a stovetop. “Good job! You put it in a pot! Now you can cook it with potatoes!” Cartoonishly rendered characters with big eyes, outsized jaws and teeth, and lots of personality provide the perfect blend of ferocity and silliness. Bright colors and the clever cutout gimmicks add visual appeal.

A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72820-945-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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