A stimulating and funny fantasy about acceptance.

THE GHOUL

The story of Hasan, a young and courageous boy from a small village who decides to brave the unknown.

Inspired by Arab folklore, the story revolves around life in a quiet and peaceful village somewhere in Arabia, where the only thing disturbing the surrounding peace is the ghoul living up the mountain—a monster everyone dreads and fears. While nobody has actually seen it, all the villagers are worried that it might eat children, so they tiptoe and whisper lest they draw its attention. Perplexed by the idea of a monster that nobody has seen or heard, Hasan decides to defy his parents and investigate for himself. To his surprise, he finds a creature that is just as afraid of humans as they are of it, an estranged being who will not venture down the mountain out of fear of these humans who look so much different. After sharing their mutual misconceptions, Hasan and the ghoul realize that they can still be friends despite their differences. Children will giggle at both the ghoul’s physical ridiculousness (it looks like a shaggy purple cyclops with an endearingly goofy grin) and the colloquy that reveals important truths: “But…ghouls are vegetarians.” This Jordanian import has great potential to serve caregivers and educators in facilitating discussions about perceiving—and more importantly, accepting—the “other” despite differences and initial assumptions.

A stimulating and funny fantasy about acceptance. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-925-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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