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

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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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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