Endearing and entertaining: what’s not to like—or love? (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

NOBODY LIKES A GOBLIN

A small goblin finds courage when he defends a friend.

Bug-eyed, green Goblin with his toothy underbite lights torches, feeds rats, and plans to hang out in his dungeon for the day with his Very Best Friend, Skeleton, who has a crown. But the ominous sound of “boots on stone” announces adventurers—light-skinned and medieval-garbed with a full-figured warrior woman in the lead—who come roaring into Goblin’s home to steal all the books, treasure, and worst of all, Skeleton. Shaken, Goblin sets out “into the wide world” to get his friend back, but his troll neighbor cautions, “Nobody likes a goblin.” A farmer with a pitchfork and a gang of elves prove quite serious in their antipathy. Themes of loyalty, courage, and friendship nicely complement the lively sense of danger. Diagonal lines invest each page with motion; full-color art with entertaining details—look for the small dragons on the rocks and for the kidnapped goose and girl on the adventurers’ cart—pulls readers in to the story. When a company of goblins asks our hero, still wearing Skeleton’s crown from before, “Are you the Goblin King?” he thinks a moment before responding “Yes….yes, I am.” Young readers will find themselves cheering Goblin on—he may not be lovely, but his sense of friendship and his loyalty are convincing and appealing.

Endearing and entertaining: what’s not to like—or love? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-081-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on.

THE TEMPEST

Mirth, magic, and mischief abound in this picture-book retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

Ariel, the beloved sprite whose conjurings precipitate the eponymous tempest, gets top billing in this adaptation and recounts the narrative in the first person. Through Ariel’s eyes, readers are introduced to the powerful Prospero, his lovely daughter, Miranda, and the shipwrecked nobles who are brought to the island to right an ancient wrong. Ellinas’ picture book largely divests the tale of its colonialist underpinnings and breathes three-dimensional complexity into the major and minor characters. Caliban, for instance, is monstrous due to his callous treatment of Ariel rather than because he is racially coded as savage. Another delightful change is the depiction of Miranda, who emerges as an athletic, spirited, and beautiful nature-child whose charms are understandably irresistible to Prince Ferdinand. The text is perfectly matched by Ray’s jaw-droppingly beautiful illustrations, which will enchant readers from the front cover to the final curtain. The greens of the waters and the blues of the island’s night sky are so lush and inviting that readers will wish they could enter the book. Peppered throughout the story are italicized fragments of Shakespeare’s dialogue, giving both young and older readers something to enjoy. Large, granite-colored Caliban is plainly nonhuman; the human characters present white; Ariel is a translucent, paper white.

A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1144-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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