Gurm’s company, but threep doesn’t have to be a crowd when it comes to starting school and making new friends.

BEST FRINTS AT SKROOL

Omek and Yelfred have weathered friendship difficulties before (Best Frints in the Whole Universe, 2016), but can their relationship survive Yelfred’s picking Q-B as his new best frint?

Skrool on Boborp is similar to school on Earth, with rules, learning, and bloox to read, though Portis’ pictures and text hilariously contradict each other. “When the bell BLANGS the stroodents sit quietly.” In the picture, they bite and kick, and across the gutter, they yell as they “learn to listen when their skreecher spleeks.” At recess, “childrinx make new frints,” and this is where the trouble starts for poor Omek, whose best frint, Yelfred, has a new best frint, Q-B. Omek’s frown deepens and their shoulders and head sag ever more as Yelfred and Q-B grow close and leave them out of their fun. But some lunch sharing (“Spewd flight!”) gives Omek the opening he needs. Portis’ illustrations, done with pencil, charcoal, and a Cintiq drawing tablet, once again use a brilliant palette and digital textures to great effect, bringing to vivid life this alien world. The characters are diverse in color, shape, size, and numbers of eyes, tentacles, and appendages. Endpapers add to the fun (and help decipher the Boborpian language) with a glossary of terms, the numbers from one to 10, and directions for playing eye ball in the peedle pit.

Gurm’s company, but threep doesn’t have to be a crowd when it comes to starting school and making new friends. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-871-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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