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

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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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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