MAGGIE'S CHOPSTICKS

Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success.

Learning to use something new is never easy.

Young Maggie has a new set of chopsticks, but everyone says she is using them incorrectly. Evocative and appealing digitally enhanced  watercolors show how Grandmother, Mother, Brother and Sister eat with their chopsticks (shoveling, popping, plucking and dancing, respectively), but Maggie can’t seem to follow any of their examples. The Kitchen God has nothing helpful to say, and Maggie’s private practicing doesn’t help her either; it’s not until Father offers praise and comforting words about individuality that Maggie finds her own style, “like a butterfly emerging / from a long winter’s sleep.” Though something seems lost here—it is difficult to see whether the setting is China or elsewhere, whether using chopsticks with style is a cultural phenomenon or based on Maggie’s own observations, and whether Maggie improves through practice, simply accepts herself or both—the story is well-intentioned, the character plucky and hardworking, and the illustrations warm and striking.

Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success. (Picture book.3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-619-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

THE THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS AND THE GINGERBREAD MAN

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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