This tale of a young Wisenheimer is plenty crafty and features a satisfyingly fitting requital.

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PICTURE DAY PERFECTION

A clever tale about a kid who wants this year to be his showcase for the perfect school picture.

The unnamed narrator might as well be called Wisenheimer. He tells readers that he really is excited about making this year’s school photo the best ever, but they’ve got a right to wonder. He doesn’t try to curb his hair—it’s “the worst case of bedhead ever”—or find an alternative to his favorite shirt, which is found stained, wrinkled and smelly in the bottom of the hamper. He gets syrup all over his head at breakfast (it somehow magically disappears in what film critics would call a “continuity error”), then into a touch of spitball trouble with the bus driver, which puts a scowl on his face when he has to sit up front. Readers may start to catch on after he gets paint on himself in art class: Maybe Wisenheimer is just a standard slobby kid, and the perfect photo was never fated to be. Then the story turns on a dime, and then on another dime, and maybe more attention should have been paid to that bedhead, which does look somewhat like the devil’s horns. Diesen has crafted a nice piece of work, and Santat’s Photoshop illustrations have a polish that heightens the immediacy of the moment.

This tale of a young Wisenheimer is plenty crafty and features a satisfyingly fitting requital. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0844-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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