Cheep thrills indeed! (Picture book. 5-8)

READ REVIEW

HENSEL AND GRETEL

NINJA CHICKS

The wolf from the first two of Schwartz and Santat's ninja fairy tales (The Three Ninja Pigs, 2012, etc.) has finally learned to live peacefully—but the fox has yet to learn that lesson.

Author and artist, this time joined by Gomez as co-author, take even greater liberties in this raucous retelling of “Hansel and Gretel.” After a fox steals their mama from the chicken coop, two chicks attend the 3 Pigs Dojo (right across from Wolf Yoga) to learn ninjutsu. When Hensel and Gretel return to the coop after class one day to find their papa gone too, the chicks track the fox's trail through an ominous wood. The sight of a cornbread cottage distracts Hensel, and she is lured inside by a voice inviting: "My dear, come on in for a bite." Hensel realizes her mistake when she sees Mama and Papa in crates. The rhyming, fast-paced text is packed with one-liners. Green, gold, and orange tones predominate in Santat's distinctive artwork, which features big, bold, wide-eyed characters. Horizontal planes turn into dynamic diagonals when Gretel sneaks in and fights the fox, who knows a few moves of her own. That it's a wok thrown by Mama that brings down the fox gets a bit lost, but that doesn't diminish the unflappable bravery of the two chicks, who go on to fight birdnappers everywhere.

Cheep thrills indeed! (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17626-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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