With a toy sword and a wastebasket serving as a helmet, he marches (in his pajamas) boldly ahead, right into the path of "a...

THE WOODS

The night light is on and the bedtime story firmly in the young narrator's grasp, but stuffed bunny is nowhere to be found! There's only one thing to do: He has to go into the woods, which are conveniently right next to his bedroom.

With a toy sword and a wastebasket serving as a helmet, he marches (in his pajamas) boldly ahead, right into the path of "a big, scary brown bear!" Luckily, the bear is scared of the dark too, so the boy shares his night light. The duo sets off into the deeper woods, where they meet two scary giants. These guys in green are just bored, so the boy shares his bedtime story with them. Off this quartet ventures, and comes upon a pink three-headed, fire-breathing dragon... And so on. The procession comes to a big scary dark cave and, holding hands, summon the courage to enter. Inside is a big, hairy, scary monster—holding a tiny red bunny! Mystery solved; the boy invites everyone back to his room, where a final illustration shows him smiling and clutching stuffed versions of all his banished fears. The refrain—"we weren't afraid at all. Until…"—sets a comfortable pattern, and the fuzzy watercolors on thick creamy stock enhance the coziness of the tale.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7547-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Perfect bedtime story for the end of a busy day.

TWENTY YAWNS

After a day at the beach, Mom, Dad, and Lucy are tired. But when the moon shines through her window, and everything looks mysterious, Lucy is suddenly wide awake. How will she go to sleep?

This warm, sweetly ordinary story is Pulitzer Prize–winner Smiley’s picture-book debut. The simple text describes a sunny day at the beach, with Lucy digging a hole, running into the water, walking from one end of the beach to the other, rolling down warm dunes, and eventually heading home, with Mom declaring, “Early bedtime!” As Mom reads a bedtime story, she falls asleep, and Lucy begins to nod off. But when moonlight bathes her bed, a wide-awake Lucy slips out of bed and pads out of her room in search of Molasses, her bear. Dad is snoring in his chair, and the house is very quiet. After finding Molasses—and all her menagerie of animal toys—Lucy settles them in her bed, snuggles in next to them, sighs a happy sigh, and falls asleep. Caldecott Honoree Castillo beautifully captures the warmth of the story in textured watercolors and bold, saturated colors. Of special note is the refreshingly straightforward portrayal of the family as biracial (Mom has dark skin and springy hair, while Dad is white). And the titular “twenty yawns?” Readers can find and count them sprinkled throughout the text.

Perfect bedtime story for the end of a busy day. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2635-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more