Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports.

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THE STONE GIANT

A timely fairy-tale adventure about one child’s quest to defeat a giant.

On a tiny island, a child and her knight father live in isolation. Then the knight leaves to fight a dangerous giant terrorizing the land by turning people into stone. Days pass, but the knight never returns. Finally, the girl embarks on her own journey to save her father with nothing more than a red dress, knife, mirror, and umbrella. Höglund, a contemporary Swedish children’s-book creator, points to a story by legendary author/illustrator Elsa Beskow as this book’s inspiration. Translated from Swedish, the third-person text, always printed on verso and surrounded by generous white space, is brief yet specific, prompting ponderous pauses throughout. True to fairy-tale tradition, everyday objects possess the key to salvation. However, in a contemporary twist, it is not an adult or knight in shining armor but the child who does the rescuing, not through beauty or kindness but with fortitude and determination. With the exception of a few double-page spreads, illustrations appear opposite text on recto. Employing precise copper-plate etching overlaid with nearly monochromatic watercolor washes, they create a desolate, shadowy world. This constant feeling of danger underscores the girl’s worry and subsequent bravery in the face of the unknown. The cloth binding and stamped lettering make this small, rectangular volume feel special.

Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-776572-73-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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