With bedtime-story shelves bursting, this is one that can be set aside.

PUTTING THE MONKEYS TO BED

Those monkeys just don’t want to sleep!

Snuggled in bed with his three stuffed monkeys, Sam asks his mother if he would have to go to sleep if he were a monkey. In answer, she tucks him in after reading him his favorite book—but once she leaves, his stuffed monkeys come to life and want to jump around. “They smash and bash and crash-crash-crash until all balls have been bounced and all trains have been trounced.” Mama warns him to get back in bed, and he does, but his mind teems with questions: “Do fish go to bed in their bathing suits?” Mama says she’ll answer his questions in the morning. He tries his breathing exercises, but the monkeys turn it into a “ping-pong song” and “the French ding-dong song.” Mind and monkeys still working overtime, Sam tricks the lively stuffed animals into listening to his book, and they all drift off. Choldenko’s tale of bedtime bounciness reads like something a parent might make up on the spur of the moment to quiet a restless child. Imaginative, restless tots might recognize themselves in Sam, but their imaginations are probably a bit more original and outlandish than his. Even Davis’ frenetic and funny watercolors can’t mitigate the story’s extemporaneous feel.

With bedtime-story shelves bursting, this is one that can be set aside. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-24623-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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