With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations,...

ONCE UPON A GOAT

A picture-book fable featuring a king, a queen, a fairy godmother, and…a goat?

In this sweet and playful fable, a royal couple wishes hopefully for a child. While they claim “we’re not particular,” they also present their fairy godmother with a wish list that their child have “glowing skin, bright eyes, and hair like ocean waves” and preferably be a boy, “but any kid will do.” She gets to work, and on the next full moon the king and queen receive the answer to their wishes—but it’s a goat and not the perfect human boy they were expecting. Disappointment turns to despair before despair turns to delight as this unusual trio becomes a loving and happy family. When they are ultimately given the opportunity to correct the “misunderstanding” and swap their beloved goat for a human child, the royal parents arrive at a creative solution. The smoothly paced illustrations are nicely varied among vignettes, full pages, and double-page spreads. The artwork is rich with traditional fairy-tale motifs, and the austere lines of the palace contrast amusingly with the chaos brought by the goat child. While it has a small cast of human and humanoid characters, all of them present white.

With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations, this is a lovely family read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7374-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave...

RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL

Rufus Leroy Williams III is determined to learn how to read, but can he convince Principal Lipid to allow a pig in school?

Rufus makes the best of his illiteracy by imagining his own stories to go with the pictures in his favorite book, but still he longs to read. The tiny pig knows just how to solve his problem, though: With a backpack, he can go to school. But Principal Lipid seems to think it takes more than a backpack to attend school—if you are a pig, that is, since pigs are sure to wreak all sorts of havoc in school: track mud, start food fights, etc. Rufus decides a lunchbox is just the ticket, but the principal feels differently. Maybe a blanket for naptime? Or promises not to engage in specific behaviors? Nope. But the real necessary items were with Rufus all along—a book and the desire to learn to read it. Gorbachev’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasize Rufus’ small size, making both his desire and the principal’s rejection seem that much larger. Parents and teachers beware: The humorous pages of imagined, naughty behavior may be more likely to catch children’ eyes than Rufus’ earnestly good behavior.

But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave him room to dream.” (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0416-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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