This fairy-tale–style story is a standout pleaser for the right crowd, with a year-round shelf life.

BOO STEW

Will Curly Locks find anyone who appreciates her cooking?

Unlike most residents of Toadsuck, Curly Locks doesn’t mind the Scares, shadowlike creatures who inhabit the swamp. They keep to themselves, other than their “hootin’ and hollerin’,” which can annoy folks at night. Curly Locks only cares about cooking. But for some reason, people aren’t interested in her batwing brownies, cat-hair cupcakes, or toad-eye toffees. One day, the mayor is enjoying his breakfast when a little Scare plants itself in the middle of his plate. The mayor flees, and a succession of townspeople comes to help only to be chased off by even bigger Scares. When Curly Locks hears of the kerfuffle, she wonders if anyone has tried cooking for the Scares. She saunters up to the mayor’s house with her possum grease and toadstools and heads to the kitchen. With a promise of her famous Boo Stew and a calm demeanor, she gets the Scares to clean up their mess before sitting down for a meal, striking a historic deal with them that benefits the whole town and gives her someone to cook for. Curly Locks is a plucky Black girl among a multiracial cast of characters whose country accents enhance the story’s setting. The inky, blotchy Scares are pretty scary, and Curly Locks’ food is stomach-turning, hilarious for lovers of gross humor.

This fairy-tale–style story is a standout pleaser for the right crowd, with a year-round shelf life. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-221-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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