Much better books about not being able to sleep abound—skip these bedtime blues.

PETE THE CAT AND THE BEDTIME BLUES

From the Pete the Cat series

After a fun-filled day at the beach, Pete and his friends decide to continue the fun with a sleepover, but if they can’t sleep, will it still be fun?

Gus, Alligator, and Toad join Pete at his house, and it’s all fun and games until the lights go out for bedtime. “Clap! Clap! Clap!” Toad doesn’t want to sleep—he wants to clap. Another round of good nights and the lights go out. “Rat-a-tat-tat!” Gus wants to jam. And then, “Munch! Munch! Munch!” Alligator is hungry. What can Pete do to get a little shut-eye? Maybe his favorite bedtime book holds the answer. As in the rest of the tales featuring Pete, the characters are heavy-lidded and expressionless. Even a day surfing at the beach and a sleepover with friends can’t elicit smiles from this group. And Pete, though readers assume that he’s increasingly frustrated with his noisy friends, never bats an eyelash or expresses his feelings. Words like “gang,” “groovy,” “far-out,” and “cool cat” try too hard to appeal to Beat Generation wannabes.

Much better books about not being able to sleep abound—skip these bedtime blues. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-230430-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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