This ageless trickster tale has a nicely subversive message, but this rendition lacks the panache to carry it off.

PUSS IN BOOTS

A wooden retelling of Perrault’s classic tale, with underwhelming movable parts.

Gurney embellishes the original plotline only by furnishing the Ogre with a back story (provided in a very small pasted-in booklet) and bestowing names on the kingdom and most of the characters. Her prose stumbles (“Puss pondered over [sic] the problem of Peter’s livelihood”), and her dialogue runs to stilted lines like, “We have seen your idea of work, Peter—it is to sit around all day playing your harmonica and idling.” Illustrator Kelley does his best to add plenty of visual panache, crafting painted scenes featuring a swashbuckling ginger puss plainly akin to the scene stealer from Shrek and cleverly manipulating a Disney-esque human cast. Such movable additions as a turn-able water wheel, a pull tab that makes Puss lick his chops after devouring the ogre and even a culminating pop-up wedding tableau are, at best, routine, and they often feel like afterthoughts, enhancing neither the art nor the story.

This ageless trickster tale has a nicely subversive message, but this rendition lacks the panache to carry it off. (Pop-up fairy tale. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6485-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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LIFESIZE

Like it or not, size matters, and Henn shows just how important size can be across 17 animal species found around the world.

The organization is scattershot, jumping from animal to animal, but readers and listeners may not mind this as they’re learning a bit about each creature discussed. Nearly every text block ends with an open-ended question or challenge: Can you flap your arms faster than a bee hummingbird’s 80 times per second? Whose tongue is longer, yours or a giraffe’s? Large spreads—each page is 12 inches square—allow this book to be easily seen from the back of the room. Though the book will easily create choruses of “awwww”s, it may also generate a few “uuuummmm”s, as the facts are brief. Readers learn, for instance, that the male rainbow lizard is normally brown but transforms into rainbow hues “to impress female lizards,” but they don’t learn how this happens. Backmatter consists of a relative-size chart of many (not all) of the animals discussed. All measurements are in English units only even though the metric system is the international standard. Henn’s illustrations, which appear to be digitally created, are bright, bold, and welcoming. Readers are greeted by an arrestingly large panda face and bamboo endpapers, but the only information about pandas is in the backmatter. Panda enthusiasts (and those who judge a book by its cover) will be greatly disappointed.

A mixed bag. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-731-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best.

MINIATURE ADVENTURES

A POCKET-SIZED COLLECTION OF SMALL-SCALE WONDERS

From the Atlas of Adventures series

A little world tour of little things—from the smallest sea horse to the largest model railway.

With a small trim size suitable to the topic and diminutive narrative type to match (the latter not always a good idea, particularly when the background color is dark brown or purple), this gathering offers armchair travelers a small-scale mix of natural and constructed minimarvels on each continent. The 20 entries are placed on introductory and inset maps, and they’re depicted with miniscule exactitude in painted illustrations—many of these featuring a pair of avid young white tourists to show relative size. But for all that readers will come away with a yen to see the world’s smallest teddy bears in South Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum or play minigolf under black lights in Berlin, not to mention understanding the importance of krill to the Antarctic marine ecosystems, as a travel guide it’s all rather arbitrary and rough-hewn. Many creatures and sites appear on the introductory maps but nowhere else; there are no leads to more information about any of the selected wonders; and measurements throughout are in a casual mix of metric and English units.

A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-909-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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