Combine monsters, ridiculousness, and audience participation for a delightfully raucous result.

MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT

Though this book is all about monsters’ bedtime routines, don’t be fooled—this will induce not sleep but its opposite.

Young readers see each step the monsters take in getting ready for bed and are asked to guess which of several items they might eat for a bedtime snack, use to take a bath and brush their teeth, wear as pajamas, snuggle with, and kiss. The very simple sentences and clues in the bright illustrations allow even the youngest children to “read” this very quickly. “MONSTERS eat bedtime snacks. / Which snack do MONSTERS eat?” A glass of milk, a carrot, a piece of bread, or an umbrella? A turn of the page reveals “MONSTERS eat UMBRELLAS!” Similarly, monsters ignore the rubber ducky, shampoo, and bar of soap in favor of bathing in chocolate pudding. By the third question, most children will have caught on and will be happily blurting out the most ridiculous item on the page, which also happens to stand out clearly from the other three. Helpfully, the author breaks this pattern when it comes to potty time. In his ink, brush, and Photoshop illustrations, Zenz uses bright, plain backgrounds to keep the focus on the characters and their choices. The monsters are adorable and wonderfully diverse in all their multilimbed and -eyed glory, featuring sprouts of hair, horns, tails, and spikes.

Combine monsters, ridiculousness, and audience participation for a delightfully raucous result. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1653-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations.

MY GOOD MORNING

A little girl diligently gets ready for her day but leaves lots of messes in her wake.

The unnamed girl has light brown skin and dark brown curls similar to her dad’s, and her mom is white. The characters in the digital illustrations have big, exaggerated eyes. The child narrates the text matter-of-factly in simple rhyming sentences: “Time to go potty. I can do this! / Mommy is there to make sure I don’t miss.” Each double-page spread presents a slightly different, humorous visual interpretation of the situation, and it’s in this juxtaposition that the book shines. The cat’s in the hamper, underwear and socks are on the floor, and the pink toilet paper is trailing all over. The two parents seem a little overwhelmed. As they both try to get the girl into her clothes, one arm escapes, and the dad is really sweating from exertion. She insists on tying her laces and buttoning her coat, and the illustrations show the exuberant but incomplete results. As the girl grabs her backpack, her apple rolls out, and Mommy has to grab it. At school, she hangs her coat up, but somehow it lands on the floor (her scarf is also awry), and observant viewers will notice that her shoelace is still untied. In her diverse classroom, she proudly announces: “But this time Daddy, I won’t cry”—and now readers can believe her: there’s nary a tear in sight.

A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-342-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message.

PRINCESS CHARMING

A young princess struggles to find something she is good at.

Princess Charming finds it hard to be perfect—something, she says, everyone expects of her. She tries cooking, dancing, and singing but admits she’s hopeless at them, although she keeps trying. When glamorous movie star Stella Sparkle—illustrated with brown hair and light brown skin—visits the palace to determine if it is a good filming location for her next movie, the princess, a huge fan, is excited to meet her. But when the princess’s dog jumps on Stella and her earring goes missing, will the movie plan be put in jeopardy? It is at this tenuous juncture that Princess Charming finds out exactly what she is good at—a point that is made with some heavy-handedness. While the story includes many racially diverse secondary characters, the fact that the princess and the rest of the royal family are White suggests a power imbalance that undermines the book’s attempt at racial inclusiveness. Princess Charming’s jocular, self-deprecating narration is cute enough. The digital illustrations are lively and colorful, but they merely mirror the text instead of elevating the storyline. The final twist, a play on an old fairy tale, is pleasingly unexpected and solidifies the story’s message in a nuanced way. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32678-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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