This cozy book is as comforting as a warm quilt and a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night.

MAUD AND GRAND-MAUD

During sleepovers with her grandmother, a young girl imagines she’ll be just like her grandmother one day.

On special weekends, Maud spends the night at her grandmother’s house, watching black-and-white movies, eating breakfast for dinner, and telling stories. Maud loves imagining the past, when Grand-Maud was a little girl, as well as the future, when Maud will become a Grand-Maud herself with a granddaughter to love. An ode to intergenerational relationships, O’Leary’s story unfolds in a series of short vignettes. The connections between past and present are strengthened as the two characters ask each other questions and explore the answers. Maud’s love and adoration for her grandmother make up the backbone of this comforting book, perfect for a snuggly, bedtime read. Textured, sepia-toned backgrounds set off characters rendered in saturated colors. As the story drifts backward and forward in time, Pak’s illustrations provide a strong framework to help readers keep their footing. Grand-Maud is depicted with white hair and pale skin; in a photograph of her as a child, she has blond hair. Maud has straight black hair and presents Asian. When Maud speaks of the seven children she might have one day, she imagines them to have many different combinations of her and Grand-Maud’s physical traits.

This cozy book is as comforting as a warm quilt and a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-55458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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