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I WILL NOT EAT YOU

Fanciful pretend play for the dragon-slaying preschooler.

A cave-dwelling monster named Theodore ponders potential foodstuffs.

Two enormous oval eyes peer out of a dark cave’s entrance, glowing pink in the sunrise, yellow in the morning light, and teal in the evening light. As various animals—a wolf, a bird, and a tiger—pass in front, Theodore considers eating each one but decides he’s not that hungry and utters the titular refrain: “I will not eat you.” A small white boy dressed in a blue hoodie and mud-splashed galoshes and wielding a metal trashcan-lid shield trots up to the cave on a hobbyhorse. He shines his flashlight into the cave and roars a great roar at Theodore. “Seriously?” thinks Theodore. “I should eat it.” Thus begins an epic battle between a pretend knight and what readers finally see to be a massive, horned, bearded red dragon. As Lehrhaupt spins this tale with deadpan humor, readers never fear for the boy. Magoon’s exuberant art recalls classic characters, most particularly Max in his wolf suit. The digital illustrations emulate mixed-media images: some leaves resemble block prints, and short, thin, penlike highlights enliven the animals’ fur. The text is hand-lettered. As the action escalates, Theodore becomes festooned with flowers that reflect the bright yellow glow of the flashlight’s beam. The palette, though dark, is never menacing.

Fanciful pretend play for the dragon-slaying preschooler. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2933-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

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The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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