A winning choice for reading aloud in storytimes and a fine gift for a family with a new baby, with or without a dog.

CRYBABY

A black Labrador retriever is the only family member who can soothe a crying baby in this humorous, cumulative story that cries out to be read aloud with plenty of sound effects.

The story begins “in a quiet house on a quiet street,” but the stillness of the night is broken by a resounding “W-A-A-A-A!” set in large, red display type. The titular “crybaby” is clearly distressed and wailing loudly in her crib. The old family dog, Roy, comes a-running with the baby’s favorite stuffed toy, but his help is repeatedly rejected. Each family member tries a different tactic to help quiet the baby, from rocking to a bottle feeding to changing the baby’s diaper. Every action is given a sound-effect description, usually two words, with the rhyming phrases adding up in a funny reverse list that children will enjoy repeating or acting out: “P-e-e-u-u-w-w! / Peek-a-boo! / Hush, hush! / Rush, rush!” Faithful Roy the retriever keeps offering the baby’s stuffed lamb, and eventually the baby reaches down for her toy, solving her crying spell and allowing everyone to get to sleep just as the sun is rising. Loose watercolor illustrations with the look of collage effectively incorporate the sound-effect words within the page designs. Roy is portrayed as a gentle giant carrying the toy lamb in his mouth, and the depictions of family and neighbors add humor to the parade of potential helpers.

A winning choice for reading aloud in storytimes and a fine gift for a family with a new baby, with or without a dog. (Picture book. 3-8) 

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8974-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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