Empowerment in leaps and bounds.

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RAPUNZEL

A resourceful Rapunzel turns the tale askew.

Employing the same cropped, shifty-eyed cover style as her previous work (Little Red, 2016), Woollvin hints at mischief right at the start. This time, a certain gal with long golden locks is not as helpless as she may appear. Woollvin begins with Rapunzel already in the tower; there’s no mention of how she got there. But a witch, in a modish black hooded dress that makes it look as though she’s wearing a black traffic cone, keeps her imprisoned. The fairy tale’s well-known refrain is only sounded once: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” but readers will appreciate the hint of familiarity. No prince is needed in this version; instead Rapunzel uses her own hair to climb out of the tower and makes friends with woodland creatures who help her escape. She defeats the witch with cunning ingenuity—and advice from a book titled How to Defeat Witches. The blocky gouache illustrations in gray and black, strategically accented with yellow (such as the witch’s bloomers as well as Rapunzel’s hair), heighten the timbre, suggesting both deviousness and joy. A damsel no more, Rapunzel dons a black Zorro mask and takes on the rest of the witches in the forest (all of whom are as white as Rapunzel, but one is delightfully bearded).

Empowerment in leaps and bounds. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68263-003-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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