As silly a trip to grandma’s house as there ever was.

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NINJA RED RIDING HOOD

Schwartz and Santat deliver a powerful karate chop of a picture book to fracture the familiar “Little Red Riding Hood” story.

Hot on the heels of their successful Three Ninja Pigs (2012), this tale sees the hungry wolf enrolling in karate class to add some new skills to his predatory ways. Told in verse that adopts the lilting rhythm of a limerick, the humorous text pairs with digital art that bears the mark of Santat’s animation background. The lupine antihero trains and then goes into the woods, where he encounters Little Red Riding Hood. In a familiar turn, he distracts her on her journey to Grandma’s house with a flower-picking errand—but when he races off to the cottage ahead of her, he finds that Grandma is gone. Lo and behold, when the girl arrives, she does not need a woodcutter to save her because she has trained at ninja school, too. Grandma shows up fresh from practicing tai chi just in time to see Red subdue the wolf and then extract a promise that he will become a vegetarian and take up yoga. An unfortunate mishmash of Eastern religions and traditions emerges from this tale, but the absurdity of the story’s twists and turns helps to mitigate this gaffe.

As silly a trip to grandma’s house as there ever was. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-163548

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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