THAT’S HOCKEY

Bouchard trumps our expectations in this winsome tale of how they play hockey in the Far North. It’s winter, it’s Canada, and the sport is, of course, hockey. On a visit to Cousin Etienne’s farm, the narrator is stoked for a weekend full of hockey. But wait: “Where are our skates? Our pads and gloves,” asks the narrator. “That stuff’s for city kids,” Etienne says. “We play real hockey here. No skates. No pads. No helmets. Just a number nine sweater.” (For the uninitiated, that’s Rocket Richard’s number when he played with the Montreal Canadiens.) We’re talking street hockey—a nice twist and a subtle jab at the purists—and the kids have a blast, a hard-playing, high-scoring, play-’til-you-drop blast. The narrator even gets the pleasure of showing some nice moves and gaining the respect of the other players, in a sport where respect is never a given. Then, just to throw another move on his audience, Bouchard (Qu’appelle, above, etc.) reveals that the narrator is a girl, now a woman passing on the old number nine to her daughter. Those hats and clothes have masked her gender throughout, thanks to Griffiths’s (Give Maggie a Chance, not reviewed, etc.) clever art. He really gets into the spirit of the lark; the contestants are gamesome, open-mouthed, and good-natured, for in Bouchard’s story there are no winners or losers, just a bunch of kids who play on and on until the dinner bell calls. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-55143-223-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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As always, hilarious; perhaps the strongest Princess in Black outing since the first.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK TAKES A VACATION

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 4

As the title suggests, the Princess in Black attempts to take a much-needed vacation.

Worn down by constant monster alarms, Princess Magnolia, aka the Princess in Black, can hardly stay awake when fighting the furry, brightly colored monsters menacing her kingdom—this is seen in a funny fight sequence where her usual attacks have been replaced with such maneuvers as the “sluggish swing” and “double dozy.” Luckily, a new hero arrives: the Goat Avenger, who has the same height and smile as Duff the goat boy but “couldn’t be Duff. Duff did not wear a mask.” Duff—as the Goat Avenger—suggests that the princess needs a vacation and offers to handle monster duty in her absence. Princess Magnolia hits the beach and runs into Princess Sneezewort before settling in for a nap—which is promptly interrupted by a giant rampaging sea monster! This nifty battle sequence alternates with scenes of Duff, who amps himself up for battling monsters, liberates a squirrel that has set off a false alarm, and is finally assisted by the squirrel in facing an acorn monster. The dual storylines keep the pace exciting, and—even though the protagonist is sleepy—the art is energetic and charming. Princess Magnolia has fair skin, Duff’s is a little bit darker, and the beachgoers are pleasingly diverse.

As always, hilarious; perhaps the strongest Princess in Black outing since the first. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6512-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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