A prince, “handsome as most and almost as clever,” sulks because he wants to fly. A giraffe with the power to grant him three wishes does so, and by the third one he gets it right, and is made happy with a flying bicycle. This straightforward version is on the endpapers, but what’s in the pages is a rather different creature. Bea, with her round face, full skirts, and hair in a golden braid, greets readers as “you,” tells us to turn the page, and begins the story. Like the prince’s servants, Bea doesn’t like the forest, although it looks pretty benign. But the seagulls, who are supposed to pick the prince up for the first round of flying, are making a terrible racket. Bea invites readers to fly along with her to solve the problem, but gets behind in the story, and the seagulls won’t listen. She goes out in her boat, and a giant hand appears through a tear in the page, followed by the rest of the giant, who calms the gulls and thus permits the rest of the story to proceed. Bea promises that they do all live happily ever after, even though she didn’t get to tell the story properly. Die-cuts and pop-ups appear as the illustrations run like a frieze from page to page, with the text underneath. The pale, colored-pencil illustrations have a slightly sugary appearance. The whole is a bit too wobbly—a conceit that never flies. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-55037-448-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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