A familiar message, but also a crucial and timely one, charmingly presented

GABE AND GOON

Could the sleeping child and the monster in the closet possibly become best friends?

Unlike most children, young Gabe is not scared of monsters, a nice coincidence, since a big purple monster named Goon lives in the little white boy’s bedroom closet. Goon, however, is scared of children. He finds them “odd and kooky,” even “absolutely spooky.” Gabe happens to have a cold, and when Goon hears him sneezing and blowing his nose, the sneeze booms like thunder, and the honk sounds like a terrifying tuba. Goon’s knees knock, and he makes the hangers in the closet clatter. So Gabe discovers Goon, who promptly bolts from the closet and hides under the bed. Goon tries to scare Gabe, but the more gruesome the face he makes, the harder Gabe laughs. Goon tries stomping and doing his zombie walk, but neither move shakes the giggles out of Gabe. The tables are turned when a spider walks by, and Gabe hides in the closet. In the same instant, the pair realizes that they’re not so different and become the best of friends. Since it’s bedtime, the new besties share a nice scary story about monsters before lights out. The Muppet-like Goon is both goofy and adorable, and Trapani’s rhyming text bounces blithely along.

A familiar message, but also a crucial and timely one, charmingly presented . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-640-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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A winning tale about finding new friends.

FOUND

Bear finds a wonderful toy.

Bear clearly loves the toy bunny that he has found sitting up against a tree in the forest, but he wants to help it return to its home. With a wagon full of fliers and the bunny secure in Bear’s backpack, he festoons the trees with posters and checks out a bulletin board filled with lost and found objects (some of which will bring a chuckle to adult readers). Alas, he returns home still worried about bunny. The following day, they happily play together and ride Bear’s tricycle. Into the cozy little picture steps Moose, who immediately recognizes his bunny, named Floppy. Bear has a tear in his eye as he watches Moose and Floppy hug. But Moose, wearing a tie, is clearly grown and knows that it is time to share and that Bear will take very good care of his Floppy. Yoon’s story is sweet without being sentimental. She uses digitized artwork in saturated colors to create a lovely little world for her animals. They are outlined in strong black lines and stand out against the yellows, blues, greens and oranges of the background. She also uses space to great effect, allowing readers to feel the emotional tug of the story.

A winning tale about finding new friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3559-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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