Lots of fun with a gentle message for little ones and their grown-ups.

BONAPARTE PLAYS BALL

Young Bonaparte is a skeleton whose difficulty keeping his bones from falling away at the most inopportune moments weighs on his mind.

With a large round head and a red baseball cap on top, his loose collection of bones resembles a spiral light bulb. His baseball team, the Little Monsters, is scheduled to play the Mighty Aliens, and he is especially worried about the dreadful possibility that he will literally fall apart during the game. He practices hard, and his faithful dog, Mandible, fetches any bone that comes loose. But his worries are for naught; his bones stay pretty much intact, at least until the winning celebration, and Mandible has his back(bone) when he needs help. The players on the Mighty Aliens have names like Flame Thrower and Galactic Slimer that describe their special talents. Some of the Little Monsters’ names are clever puns, like hero Bonaparte and his teammates Franky Stein and Batula. Others are more descriptive of their natures, like Ghostie, Mummicula, and Zombie. The very slight tale is fast paced, focusing on the events of the game and with nods to overcoming obstacles, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Terry’s busy cartoons are spot-on, matching the text’s lightness and humor as well as providing visual clues for young readers who may not be familiar with baseball jargon.

Lots of fun with a gentle message for little ones and their grown-ups. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984830-47-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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