For pluckier princesses, try Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer’s Princess Pigsty (2007) and Mary Jane and Herman Auch’s The...

THE KING WHO WOULDN'T SLEEP

In this clever retelling of a common story, a king is determined to find the perfect prince for his lovely daughter.

So obsessed is the king that he vows to keep watch over the princess day and night—never sleeping—until he locates this perfect prince. Many princes seek the king’s favor, but he turns them all away, finding a fatal flaw in each. Undeterred, the princes try all manner of tricks and techniques to send the king off to dreamland, hoping for a chance to court the princess directly. The king proves impossible to fool, however, until a crafty farm boy enters the scene. He ultimately cons the king into counting 100 sheep, and, finally, the king is out like a light. He wakes to find the princess happy with the farmer, and a lavish wedding follows. Swain’s dynamic and appealing watercolor-and–color-pencil illustrations add charm, whimsy and amusing details to the happily-ever-after tale. For all the fun, though, there is also a bit of creepiness here—what with the father determined to watch his daughter every moment of the day until he marries her off and the princess sorely lacking a sense of agency.

For pluckier princesses, try Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer’s Princess Pigsty (2007) and Mary Jane and Herman Auch’s The Princess and the Pizza (2008). (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8997-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

THE THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS AND THE GINGERBREAD MAN

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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