THE TALE OF THE VALIANT NINJA FROG

A valiantly funny story within a story to share.

Imaginative siblings help their dad make up a bedtime story.

Dad, Jamie, and Abby (who all appear to be people of color, with brown skin and black curly hair) go camping, and the children ask for a story while illustrations show them toasting marshmallows around a fire. Dad is game and asks them for a cast of characters, which comes to include the Prince, the Princess, the Witch, the Frog (Abby’s suggestion, inspired by her plush toy frog), and “a MONSTER.” Once he gets rolling, Dad’s storytelling technique largely consists of leaving gaps for Jamie and Abby to fill in or adjusting his telling to accommodate the children’s interjections and ideas. The humorous story they build together is enhanced by illustrations that capitalize on comical facial expressions, zoomed-in perspectives, and slapstick scenarios involving an ogre. Abby is determined to make the Frog a hero in the tale despite Jamie’s commentary to the contrary, which adds some realistic, mild sibling rivalry to the frame story that surrounds the fantastic tale the family builds together. A happily-ever-after ending for the tale is echoed by a peaceful goodnight by the campfire with an anticipatory look at what story could come next.

A valiantly funny story within a story to share. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

A handsome edition of an old favorite.

The familiar cumulative game is played by four children, along with their father and their dog, at the typically British beach pictured on the lovely, expansive first endpaper. 

The children's real activities are shown in b&w drawings; the imaginative doings appear in full color. Although some of the color pages show perfectly possible events, most are clearly fantasy, suggesting just how close the two may be in children's minds. The family ends up in safe retreat in one big cozy bed; the bear is seen--on the second essential, beautiful endpaper--headed into a gloomy sea. Oxenbury's splendid watercolors and drawings perfectly evoke both landscape and the members of the questing family. 

A handsome edition of an old favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1989

ISBN: 978-0-689-50476-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

PLANET KINDERGARTEN

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions.

A genius way to ease kids into the new adventure that is kindergarten.

In an imaginative ruse that’s maintained through the whole book, a young astronaut prepares for his mission to Planet Kindergarten. On liftoff day (a space shuttle–themed calendar counts down the days; a stopwatch, the minutes), the small family boards their rocket ship (depicted in the illustrations as the family car), and “the boosters fire.” They orbit base camp while looking for a docking place. “I am assigned to my commander, capsule, and crewmates.” Though he’s afraid, he stands tall and is brave (not just once, either—the escape hatch beckons, but NASA’s saying gets him through: “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”). Parents will certainly chuckle along with this one, but kindergarten teachers’ stomach muscles will ache: “[G]ravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.” Prigmore’s digital illustrations are the perfect complement to the tongue-in-cheek text. Bold colors, sharp lines and a retro-space style play up the theme. The intrepid explorer’s crewmates are a motley assortment of “aliens”—among them are a kid in a hoodie with the laces pulled so tight that only a nose and mouth are visible; a plump kid with a bluish cast to his skin; and a pinkish girl with a toothpick-thin neck and huge bug eyes.

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1893-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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