A lighthearted take on an unlikely friendship.

HOW TO TALK MONSTER

A young boy can’t sleep because there’s a monster outside his bedroom window!

He calls his parents to investigate, but the monster hides. The monster peeks through the boy’s window with an exclamation of “Goop-zee-googy!”…then enters the boy’s room to pinch his nose (“Zork! Zork!”). The boy is scared but musters up the courage to tell the monster to go away. He crawls back into bed triumphantly only to find the monster stealing his bicycle. When the monster crashes the bike, the boy is initially furious about the cycle’s ruined wheel despite the monster’s remorseful “Gibble”—until he notices that the monster is hurt and, just like any kid, needs some comfort and first aid. The boy realizes that the monster isn’t trying to scare him—the monster is trying to play! (Readers will have figured this out long before thanks to its expressive three-eyed face.) Together the two form a friendship that keeps them both up, making mischief despite the language barrier, until dawn. The story is drawn as a comic book, featuring speech bubbles and cartoon human and monster characters. The sparse text is entertaining and efficient, working together with the movement-packed panels to push the story forward. A backmatter Monster-to-English glossary allows readers to go back to earlier panels and translate. The boy and his parents all have pale skin.

A lighthearted take on an unlikely friendship. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51580-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

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 magical wisp of a story has an imaginative message for both planners and improvisers.

JULIA'S HOUSE MOVES ON

From the Julia's House series

Julia decides to pack up and move her House for Lost Creatures, creating a host of problems with unexpected results.

Julia has taken in a cacophony of lost creatures: dwarves, trolls, and goblins, a singular rarity of a mermaid, and a patchwork cat, among others. But now, the house feels ready for a move. As the ghost starts to fade and the mermaid languishes, Julia puts her plan into action—packing books and stacking boxes. The move quickly turns into a series of catastrophes. Trying to retain the facade of control, Julia is dismayed to see her plans making things worse. Knowledge of the previous title, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (2014), is a helpful introduction, as Hatke turns the solution of the first book into the problem for this one. With skillful pacing, the story has messages for both planners and creatives. The problems seem beyond resolution, keeping readers in gleeful suspended tension. While the first book introduced readers to the gnomish folletti, a hedgehoglike ghillie comes to a dramatic rescue here. There are two disparate messages in one story: Kindness will be returned, and it is OK to not have a plan. Connecting them together are lush illustrations that stretch the mind and add details to mythic beasts. Julia presents white. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25% of actual size.)

This magical wisp of a story has an imaginative message for both planners and improvisers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19137-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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