A feisty manifesto and appealing visual experience for those who find books thrust upon them.

I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS BOOK

After declaring refusal to do so, an unseen narrator reads this book.

The book’s title appears as a Post-it note attached to the cover. With lighthearted, whimsical word-art drawings, hand-lettering, a clipped pace, and a palette dominated by a warm peach tone, the story features a wry and opinionated offstage narrator who provides metatextual commentary about the scorned book at hand. “Let me guess...Words,” says the snarky narrator about what to expect when opening the book. Some words, such as the word doubtwith its useless letter B, are “plain ridiculous.” And then there are unnecessarily large words, such as infinitesimal, which (confoundingly) means “small.” By now, the narrator has reached peak crankiness. The next objects of the narrator’s ire are sentences, described as “too many words all smushed together,” followed by paragraphs (“Just looking at a paragraph exhausts me”) and chapters. (Cue Chapter 2!) The hyperbolic vexation is genuinely funny as medium and message converge. Words, sentences, paragraphs, an entire chapter, and the ending are presented in this anti-reading diatribe, the enddepicted in triumphant, celebratory fireworks. Greenfield’s gentle satire and Lowery’s genuinely entertaining cartoon translation of prose to art might charm even avid readers (who may remember once agreeing with some of the narrator’s sentiments). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A feisty manifesto and appealing visual experience for those who find books thrust upon them. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32606-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Certain to become a favorite bedtime book.

EVERYBODY IN THE RED BRICK BUILDING

A crying baby sets off a chain reaction of responses from the neighbors she wakes in the red brick building.

Baby Izzie wakes up in the night with a “WaaaAAH!” Her wail wakes not only those in her apartment, but also neighbor Rayhan, who inadvertently wakes his parrot, who announces: “RraaK! WAKE UP!” The parrot’s squawks and baby’s cries wake more and more neighbors, who rouse others in the building until everyone is awake and contributing to the late-night hullabaloo. Finally, Pepper the cat manages to set off a car alarm that yells “WEE YOOO WEEEE YOOOOO!!!!” into the night. Eventually, all the neighbors—a testament to urban diversity—settle down from the excitement and return to bed. Each is lulled by soft, gentle sounds that begin with the “shhh shhh” of a street sweeper, the “plonk plonk” of falling acorns, and the “ting ting” of a wind chime. The onomatopoeia in this cumulative tale is appropriate for the actions described and is so much fun to read. Mora’s beautiful, vivid geometric illustrations incorporate the onomatopoeia in the first half of the story. They sprawl across spreads and invite loud reading but are absent by the time the story begins to make its turn back to the starting point. That “shhh shhh” sound from the street sweeper brings calm and quiet to the activity in the red brick building—and, as if by magic, readers as well. Sotto voce: very well done! (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Certain to become a favorite bedtime book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-286576-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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