A fantastic entry into the kid-and-monster-friendship subgenre.


A child encounters a creature from Filipino folklore and makes a surprising new discovery in author/illustrator Valdez’s picture-book debut.

Bunso (whose name is a Tagalog word for a family’s youngest sibling) is scared of the stories that his sister, or Ate, tells him about a creature called the Mumu, who “likes to punish kids who misbehave by sucking the fun outta everything!” Mom, Dad, and Bunso’s Kuya (brother) scold him for drawing on the walls, not eating dinner, and playing Kuya’s video games without permission; all say that the Mumu will get him. Bunso decides to try to defeat the Mumu; he does research and prepares equipment to confront it. But when Bunso traps the Mumu, it turns out to be an adorable ghost who wants a friend and another shot at enjoying life. Valdez draws on Filipino folklore he learned from his own family to create a fun, mischievous tale for young readers. He works Tagalog terms into the text seamlessly, and Bunso’s narration reads in an authentically childlike voice. Valdez’s comic-style drawings are reminiscent of Cartoon Network programs but also have the sensibility of Bill Watterson’s "Calvin and Hobbes," particularly in its depiction of the instant friendship between Bunso and misunderstood Mumu. Children struggling with fears of monsters under the bed may be comforted by Mumu’s adorableness.

A fantastic entry into the kid-and-monster-friendship subgenre.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9997050-4-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Jesse Byrd Jr

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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