Delicious.

READ REVIEW

HANSEL & GRETEL

A new version of the Grimms’ tale, told from the witch’s perspective.

The text immediately establishes the witch, named Willow, as a “good witch” who lives in a gingerbread house. When she encounters two children in the forest, she asks them to help clean up the trail of breadcrumbs they’ve left behind so it won’t attract mice. Alas, they refuse, and then Willow is aghast to find them, not mice, nibbling on her house. But because she’s a good witch, she doesn’t get angry; instead, she invites the children inside and prepares a meal. They leave no food for her and proceed to otherwise behave badly, but she “did not get angry, because Willow was a good witch” (a refrain). The mischief culminates in the children’s shoving Willow into an oven so they can have the house to themselves, and then they destroy it. Magical Willow emerges unscathed—and finally angry. A wordless spread depicts her with the children in a cooking pot and ingredients and cooking implements (including gingerbread-cookie cutters like those depicted on the case cover) surrounding them. The final image, like all the rest rendered in a limited black, orange, and white color palette and a bold, graphic style, depicts a gingerbread girl and boy on a plate: Hansel and Gretel have gotten their just deserts by becoming dessert for Willow, who “wasn’t ALWAYS a good witch.”

Delicious. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68263-073-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A light treatment of a familiar tale.

NEVER SATISFIED

THE STORY OF THE STONECUTTER

The traditional Japanese folktale about a stonecutter who seeks ever greater prominence and power is retold in a modern, flippant version.

Stanley the frog works hard as a stonecutter. Though good at his job, he acknowledges the difficulties of his vocation. One day, on his way home from the quarry, Stanley observes a rabbit in a business suit “just sipping tea” and wishes he could be doing the same. Magically transformed with suit and tie, Stanley finds himself in the tea shop and declares, “Oh yeah! Now, this is more like it!” Soon a “commotion” around the king and his procession outside the tea shop prompts a new wish from Stanley: to be the king. Now the monarch, he proclaims “This rules!…I could get used to this kind of life!” As the sun beats down on Stanley, he grows tired of being the king and decides that being the sun would be better. Each new wish produces a limited amount of happiness or prestige with subsequent wishes to become a black cloud, a gusty wind, and finally the great stone. But Stanley’s satisfied only briefly, as the great stone must now contend with a new young stonecutter. Simple, bold, large cut-paper illustrations add to the absurdity, but overall this production with its implicit conclusion pales artistically when compared to Gerald McDermott’s stylized papercuts and Demi’s elegant paintings in their 1975 and 1995 versions, respectively.

A light treatment of a familiar tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/folktale. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-54846-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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