Spellbinding read-aloud gold.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS?

Is it a unicorn or a horse in a hat? It’s up to readers to decide!

A matter-of-fact narrator presents all the reasons why a “horse in a hat” is really just that. It couldn’t possibly be a unicorn. Or could it? As the “horse” trots along, readers will notice other “horses” in the scenery, their heads—and, more importantly, what could possibly be their horns—obfuscated by some detail (a rock, a tree, etc.). Readers may side with the narrator, but soon, the visual evidence seems to contradict the verbal. Even the narrator waffles in their certainty. When a page turn reveals abandoned “horse” hats, the mystery is almost solved. Or is it? Though “horns” clearly crown the “horses’ ” heads in subsequent spreads, they could also be a part of the background (a spire, blades of grass, etc.). The final conclusion in the debate ultimately rests on the readers’ own deductive reasoning. As coy as Jon Klassen, Murguia is a master of subtlety. The interplay between narration and illustration proves the unreliability of the senses, sharing just enough to keep the magic (and doubt) alive. Murguia’s muted pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations, presented almost entirely on double-page spreads, create a lush cartoon world. Careful readers might notice a final hint in the form of a lizard that just might be a dragon—a brilliant punctuation mark to this open-ended story.

Spellbinding read-aloud gold. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more