A kids’ tale with enjoyably eccentric visuals and a message of civility and forgiveness.

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POLYGONSTERS

Bullies meet their very polite match in this quirky new picture book for young readers.

Author and illustrator Helms (Who’s New, 2016, etc.) returns to Ponderville, the setting of her previous children’s books for early readers—a strange, whimsical place where the inhabitants impart messages of friendship. This time around, the happy Ponderville residents are alerted to the imminent arrival of a quartet of “noisy, rowdy, greedy, rough and wild” Polygonsters—depicted as jagged, two-dimensional shapes with cranky faces. Readers are shown what happened the last time the bullying Polygonsters were in town: they trampled the garden, raided the Tea House, and overturned shelves and scattered books at the library. What will Ponderville do this time? One disgruntled character urges his friends to give the Polygonsters a taste of their own medicine (“we will be mean…we will be rude”). His fellow villagers have a different idea. First, they ensure that the Polygonsters will have no access to the places where they wreaked havoc before by simply shutting doors and posting “closed” signs. Then they disarm the invaders with politeness and generosity, greeting them with gifts of books, flowers, and tasty Tea House goodies. This does the trick, and the marauders trundle home with their presents. This book offers a gentle lesson in conflict resolution, although more jaded adults may wonder if the Polygonsters have actually hit upon a lucrative protection racket. Helms’ illustrations mix bright colors and ample white space, and they’re complemented by interesting placements of text that include dialogue in comic-strip–style balloons. The humorous sound effects (“glurp,” “hoo-wah”) invite repetition, and numerous typefaces and the author’s effective use of margins will keep readers’ interest high. Overall, the offbeat world of Helms’ imagination offers pleasant lessons wrapped up in visual and verbal fun.

A kids’ tale with enjoyably eccentric visuals and a message of civility and forgiveness.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9963397-3-5

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Set Free Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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