Readers will want to move right in.

JULIA'S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES

When a little girl opens her house to “lost creatures,” chaos reigns until she sets rules for harmonious coexistence.

Julia and her house arrive by tortoiseback to the seashore, where she decides it’s too quiet and makes a sign advertising “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” She’s quickly inundated with “lost and homeless creatures” asking for towels and soap, tea and toast. The creatures soon take over, spilling things, neglecting to clean up and playing loud music. Distraught, Julia orders everyone to “STOP!” and makes another sign dividing chores among her new housemates. With order restored, all is well until the house makes disturbing noises, prompting resourceful Julia to create a final sign recruiting a handyman. Judicious placement of the spare text and enlarged, attention-getting onomatopoetic words like “whoosh,” “scritch scratch,” “boom” and “creak” add drama, while fanciful pen, ink and watercolor illustrations create a whimsical world of cartoonlike creatures. Julia’s all practicality in her kerchief, apron and pink high-top sneakers, while her ramshackle house atop the giant tortoise is the picture of cozy comfort until the invading troll, dragon, mermaid and companions trigger a rumpus reminiscent of Sendak’s Wild Things. Hatke steps from graphic novels (Zita the Spacegirl) to the picture-book format with aplomb, blending tropes from both worlds for a sweetly weird domestic adventure.

Readers will want to move right in. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-866-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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