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LLAMA, LLAMA RED PAJAMA

Dewdney’s tale is bound to become a comical classic oft-requested at bedtime.

Dewdney’s authorial debut is an uproariously funny tale detailing the true events that occur between lights out and when a wee one actually falls asleep. 

Feeling bereft after his mother leaves the room, little Llama soon calls down for a drink of water. What happens between that moment and his mom’s arrival is a treat for seasoned parents and a eureka moment for young readers. With unerring accuracy, Dewdney perfectly captures the existential, pint-sized angst little ones experience after they are tucked in for the night. With dead-on comic timing, Dewdney’s snappy verses convey the juxtaposition of little Llama’s escalating anxiety and Mama’s last minute efforts to get something done before heading back up to the room. The full-color, full-bleed illustrations are an intrinsic part of why this tale works so well. The combination of little Llama’s expressions with the ever-darkening hues expertly capture his growing concerns. When Llama’s worries reach their climactic peak, Mama’s sensible but sensitive response soothes both her ruffled baby and young readers alike.  

Dewdney’s tale is bound to become a comical classic oft-requested at bedtime. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-670-05983-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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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

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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