Educational content made entertaining.


From the Pierre & Paul series

Two friends battle a dragon and hunt for treasure in this bilingual adventure story of imaginative play.

Paul, a pale-skinned redhead with freckles, and Pierre, a brown-skinned boy with tight curls, are “friends and explorers.” They draw a treasure map, which they bring with them to take out the garbage. When they hear a roar, they use swords (sticks and rolled-up paper) and shields (a pizza box and the garbage-can lid) to defend themselves against a dragon, which is drawn on the page in Harold and the Purple Crayon fashion. Paul dies in the great battle but is revived by a lick from a passerby’s dog. The friends escape a poisonous swamp and arrive at the ocean. They take to sea on a boat but must swim to shore when a tsunami hits. The illustrations alternate between the real world inside and outside of Paul’s house in a city neighborhood, with pale, subdued backgrounds, and the fleshed-out world of the children’s imaginations, with playful transitions between the two. The blend of English and French in the text is a clever way to support bilingualism. Rather than repeating the same sentences in both languages, the story works like an early reader whose sentences alternate languages but repeat vocabulary words: “Suddenly they hear a roar. Un grand rugissement!” This allows both bilingual readers and second language learners to engage with the vocabulary in both languages without stopping the flow of the story. The pictures also support comprehension.

Educational content made entertaining. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-328-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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