Yet another outing that will have readers empathizing with and maybe emulating Love Monster.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE SCARY SOMETHING

From the Love Monster series

The lovable red monster is back, this time facing something all young children will find familiar: nighttime noise fears.

Even though it’s “past bedtime o’clock” in Cutesville and Love Monster has gone through his bedtime routine, he’s still awake, and the harder he tries to sleep, “the later and darker and spookier it got.” (His clock marvelously marks off, at 12, 3, 6, and 9 respectively, “Bedtime,” “Late,” “Dark,” and “Spooky.”) He can hear the clock ticking, the wind in the leaves, the owls. But what’s that rustle? It seems to move from the yard to downstairs, and the bang certainly means that it has gotten inside! Now he can hear its “terrible, twisterly toenails” on the floor, then coming up the stairs. Love Monster just can’t take it anymore. “Somehow, hiding from THE SOMETHING outside…got harder than finding something brave INSIDE.” A fling of the covers and a flick of the flashlight reveal another Cutesville resident who couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to be alone. Snuggles, conquering fears, and, finally, sleep bring the night to a close. Bright’s text and her illustrations perfectly capture the terrifying, compounding fear of being alone at night, hearing an unfamiliar noise, and jumping to wild conclusions. The mostly full-page spreads play up Love Monster’s fears and feelings, and Bright uses light and darkness to good effect.

Yet another outing that will have readers empathizing with and maybe emulating Love Monster. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-34691-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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