Never underestimate the power of a child, even against the Dark Side.

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ARE YOU SCARED, DARTH VADER?

An unseen narrator attempts to discover what might scare Darth Vader.

Lord Vader scoffs at the typical Halloween beasties. Neither a wolf nor a man scares him, so a wolfman won’t do it; his armor will protect him from a vampire’s bite; and as long as the ghost isn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi’s or Yoda’s, he’s fine. Though he’s not afraid of a witch, learning that she might curse him makes him morose: “I am already cursed.” Unflappable until now, the Dark Lord finally grows agitated and then increasingly annoyed (but still not scared) when the costumed kids who have been trying to scare him remove their masks and use him as a jungle gym. But even when they leave, there’s still one left: the one who’s holding this book and who’s about to close it. That does it! À la Grover in There’s a Monster at the End of This Book, the finally fearful Darth Vader tries everything to get the reader to stop turning pages, and the narrator just rubs it in, comparing being closed in the book to being trapped in carbonite. Clever design places the narrator’s text in yellow, Vader’s sarcastic responses in white on black speech bubbles. The image of the staid Lord Vader fighting off hordes of children will keep kids in stitches.

Never underestimate the power of a child, even against the Dark Side. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0497-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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