A skillful fairy tale about a hero and the flower seller he loves, though it’s hampered by an outdated literary device.

A clumsy young inventor must complete a task for a grumpy monster to win a girl’s heart in this illustrated, rhyming debut book.

In the Forest of Ho, near the Village of Hay, there’s a creature called the Grumpface, known for capturing innocent travelers and only freeing them if they can fulfill one of his three tasks. Once a cranky old man, the Grumpface was cursed by a wizard to spread his grouchiness because he could never smile. In the Village of Hay, Dafty Dan, an inventor whose contraptions never quite work, loves a flower seller named Bella. Too afraid to talk to her, he hatches a plan to find her a rose—the one flower she can’t track down for her store. This takes him to the Forest of Ho, where he is caught by the Grumpface, who is determined to show Dan that life is miserable. With Dan’s unrequited love in his heart, he insists he will accomplish one of the tasks. But his inventions ultimately fail to help him, including his “launcher.” The bird he was supposed to snare swallows his lamp. His sticky shoes adhere to a log bridge, but his loud singing causes a mishap. His light rod actually works—until he drops it and loses the object of his quest in a dark cave. Luckily for Dan, his antics make the Grumpface laugh, breaking the curse and setting the old man—and all the villagers he’s trapped—free. The old man even shows Dan where to find a rose, allowing him to gain the affections of his crush. All of Dan’s interactions with the Grumpface are delightful, and Fegan’s competent and clever rhymes scan well (“Each day he would see her standing for hours, / Across from his shop, selling her flowers”). But the tale is marred by the tired trope of a hero too afraid to talk to the girl he likes, treating her as an object to be won rather than someone who could be a friend. Frongia’s (Possessions of the Human Kind, 2017, etc.) cheerful illustrations of the green monster and the Caucasian characters are comical, especially Dan’s and the Grumpface’s expressive faces, and well-suited to the misadventure.

A skillful fairy tale about a hero and the flower seller he loves, though it’s hampered by an outdated literary device.

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9953592-0-8

Page Count: 34

Publisher: TaleBlade

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2017


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

Close Quickview