The book’s potential utility in helping children cope with irrational fears is undermined by its absence of a credible story.

BIG BAD BUBBLE

La La Land is populated by scaredy-cat monsters.

According to the narrator, when bubbles pop, they reappear in La La Land, home of some remarkably uninspired-looking (and -named) monsters. Monsters who are terrified of bubbles. A bubble-gum bubble once popped on the face of a monster named Mogo, and his subsequent fright is the rather weak basis for the collective monster bubblephobia. As Mogo attempts to spread comical misinformation about bubbles, the narrator (who speaks to both the characters and readers) instructs readers to ignore him. A pace-crushing spread of haphazard facts about La La Land comes across as filler to bring this very slight effort up to 32 pages. In the end, the narrator convinces the monsters to face their fears using their fearsome physical qualities. Salmieri does his best, placing hairy, toothy monsters against a black background; a monster called Wumpus looks a little like Sendak’s horned Wild Thing. The final illustration, with the three smaller monsters astride their larger friend fleeing in apparent terror from a monarch butterfly, may be the funniest part of this book.

The book’s potential utility in helping children cope with irrational fears is undermined by its absence of a credible story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-04549-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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