Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves.

READ REVIEW

THE THREE NINJA PIGS

"Dedication and practice pay off," is the message these three pigs painlessly deliver.

“Once upon a dangerous time,” a wolf plagued a town with his huffing and puffing, so three pigs—two hogs and a sow—attend Ninja School to learn how to face him. Each studies a different martial art, but the two brothers quickly lose interest; the third pig alone earns all her belts. So when the wolf comes calling, it’s no surprise when the brothers’ skills are not equal to the task. “The chase carried on to their sister’s. / Pig Three was outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’ ” A demonstration of her prowess is enough to send the wolf packing and the brothers back to their training. Schwartz’s sophomore outing is a standout among fractured fairy tales, masterfully combining rollicking limerick verse with a solid story, neither a slave to the other. The one quibble is the “Ninja” of the title—these pigs study the martial arts of aikido, jujitsu and karate. Santat’s illustrations are done with Sumi brush on rice paper and finished in Photoshop. The colors, patterns and themes nicely incorporate those of Japanese art, and the setting, with its background mountains, cherry blossoms and traditional rooftops, is firmly Japanese.

Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves. (glossary) (Fractured fairy tale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25514-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials.

THE WHATIFS

Worrier Cora is plagued by the Whatifs until she learns a new way to tackle her anxieties.

Cora has a problem reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Whatif.” As she goes about her days, the Whatifs clamor for her attention. These embodied worries are presented as needling little monsters that range from silly and annoying to frightening. They become especially distracting in the lead-up to her big piano recital. Despite all her preparation, the Whatifs latch on and won’t let go. Just before her big performance, though, an older girl notices Cora’s distress. Stella encourages turning around the Whatif worries, a tactic drawn straight out of the cognitive behavioral therapy playbook. By reframing and pondering alternative and optimistic Whatifs, Cora is able to tackle her anxiety and succeed. Both Cora and Stella have dark hair and eyes and peachy complexions; Cora’s classmates and community appear fairly diverse. Cora and her Whatifs have a charming appeal beyond their focus on tackling anxious thoughts, making an enjoyable read-aloud for wide audiences. In her author’s note, Kilgore describes her own anxiety disorder. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51% of actual size.)

A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1029-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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