No monstrous creativity here, but fanciful fun as friends adapt to their new family roles.

MAIA AND THE MONSTER BABY

Maia and her lovable monster delight each night in spirited play until they lose their status as their parents' only offspring.

Monster's bluntly phrased observation, “Your mother has a potbelly,” triggers a distressing realization: Maia's mother is pregnant. So, it seems, is Monster's. Both struggle to adjust to the inevitable sacrifices (from Monster’s babysitting to Maia’s dismay at having to share a room). Maia's homemade sign, scrawled in red crayon, reads, “Monster Baby, STOP Screaming!” Maia demonstrates tried-and-true techniques (tickling fuzzy feet and rocking the cradle) to soothe Monster's little sibling; Monster’s humorous cross-eyed expressions keep the human sister gurgling. Parental optimism expresses more idealism than reality: Maia grumbles, “My mother says my baby sister is my new best friend,” and Monster responds knowingly, “WE are the friends. They are the babies.” Saturated in purple-hued haziness, acrylic paints and shadowy colored-pencil scenes locate the action in the cozy confines of Maia’s room. Monster’s childlike wardrobe and exuberant demeanor accommodate fur and fangs without any hint of fright.

No monstrous creativity here, but fanciful fun as friends adapt to their new family roles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2518-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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