This witty, contemporary fable brilliantly champions truth in an era of fake news, alternative facts, and rampant lies.

THE LYING KING

When other animals fail to take a stand, a lying warthog becomes their king with devastating results.

“A runt who wanted / to be a huge pig,” the warthog “started off small,” telling tall tales and lying “to feel big.” Claiming night is day and rain is dry, the warthog brags how high he can fly, how great and handsome he is. Many find his behavior shameful but do nothing to stop him. As “his fibbing got bolder,” the bullying warthog climbs “up on the backs of his lies” to become king, lying to fill his wallet, questioning “all that was right,” and turning subjects against one another. But when “all that was false was spoken as true,” his lies eventually ensnare him. Beard spins his relevant cautionary tale in droll verse that builds in intensity as the warthog’s dishonesty expands. Signature ink-and-watercolor illustrations feature the warthog and his exotic subjects, drawn in neat, black outlines and filled with pale washes. The plain white background calls attention to the hand-lettered text and drama of the narcissistic warthog, who wears an officious sneer and absurd crown, strutting, posing, leaping, denouncing, and accusing his way across pages as stunned animals collapse beneath his lies.

This witty, contemporary fable brilliantly champions truth in an era of fake news, alternative facts, and rampant lies. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62634-528-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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