Affection that is as comfortable as Grumpy’s old cardigan

CHARLIE & MOUSE & GRUMPY

From the Charlie & Mouse series

Grumpy is coming for a stay, and nothing gets better than that for two little siblings.

Grumpy is gramps, and there isn’t a grumpy bone in this old man’s body. Indeed, Grumpy is the master of dry drollery. Grumpy has come to visit Charlie and Mouse, biracial children with a white mom and an Asian dad. Their paternal grandfather, Grumpy, is a champ because he engages the kids on their turf. “You are getting big!” notes Grumpy, in this four-interlude early reader, conveyed in words that don’t fill the mouth too full and are caught in a nice syncopation. Charlie is “getting so big,” but Mouse shakes his head. “I am not getting big.” Grumpy tells him, “You are bigger than you were. You are not getting small.” After some prompting and thinking, Mouse declares, “I am getting medium.” Medium needs a little help but not a lot of help, like for swimming or reading. As for hot dogs, big likes mustard, medium not so much. (Grumpy concedes he’s medium when it comes to hot dogs.) So it goes for pouncing on sleepers and building a fort and eating pizza and lullabies. (Like mustard, singing isn’t a Grumpy thing; Charlie takes the chore.) The only slip is in the last chapter, which gets a tad mistily metaphorical and sugarcoated for the rest of the sparkling work.

Affection that is as comfortable as Grumpy’s old cardigan . (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3748-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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