Another wry romp in the author/illustrator’s alternate fairyland, where justice is served to recalcitrant half-pints.


Waeland (The Three Bears and Goldilocks, 2022) fractures a second familiar fairy tale in this graphically crisp, wordless project.

As the inverted title telegraphs, twists await. A gray-haired witch in owlish red spectacles bakes sweets, a black cat nearby. After a woodcutter and two children reach the forest, Gretel and Hansel wander after a scuttling fox; a robin swiftly consumes Gretel’s scattered baguette crumbs. Discovering the witch’s delectably edible cottage, the pair—eyes popping like candy pinwheels—commence gobbling it, licking lollipops and chomping slabs of cookie siding. The witch invites them inside, and their boots dry beside the woodstove’s crackling fire. The rowdy duo devour a cherry-topped Black Forest cake, candies, fruit, and more—leaving a messy wake that includes an overturned cauldron and cat dish. The witch exacts revenge: A lightning bolt from a star-tipped wand reaches the fleeing Hansel, who is turned into a frog. The woodcutter searches for and tearfully reunites with the children—though the trio seem relatively unbothered by Hansel’s species switch. Meanwhile, the witch and the sleek cat enjoy refreshments, including a cookie with a sly resemblance to Gretel. Flat color and simple, bold shapes yield easily decoded visuals in this quirky, humorous tale. The woodcutter and children have brown skin; Hansel and the woodcutter sport black hair, while Gretel’s tresses match the witch’s flax-colored skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another wry romp in the author/illustrator’s alternate fairyland, where justice is served to recalcitrant half-pints. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781459833821

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.


Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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