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THE DAY THAT A RAN AWAY

A gorgeously illustrated book with a clever concept.

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A boy makes an elaborate excuse for a missing school assignment in this rhyming alphabet picture book.

Elementary school teacher Mrs. May asks her student Jet why he didn’t complete his assignment to write out the alphabet. The boy explains that he did complete it—but the letters ran away or simply disappeared off the page. Jet goes on to detail what happened to each one: “B was so sad that she didn’t stay. / C left as well; he wanted to play.” After chronicling the whereabouts of the entire alphabet, Mrs. May tells Jet that the letters will “pay for their crimes,” and she instructs the boy to write out the alphabet 20 times, much to his dismay. Fegan’s (Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32, 2018, etc.) rhyme scheme is smooth, with short sentences and child-friendly language. Returning collaborator Wen’s fantastic illustrations further enhance the story. Most show Jet attempting to find the runaway letters, depicted as playful, monsterlike creatures. The whimsical scenery is richly colored, with each page offering clever details and subtext. For instance, the “P” creature resembles a purse-carrying peacock, with items starting with “P” (plants, pumpkin, pie) subtly appearing in the background. Both Jet and Mrs. May appear to be Caucasian, and the other students include people of color.

A gorgeously illustrated book with a clever concept.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-925810-00-4

Page Count: 34

Publisher: TaleBlade

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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