Good grief! (Picture book. 4-8)


From the Peanuts Great American Adventure series

The Peanuts gang explains the origins of the American Revolution—kinda.

This is such an egregious appropriation of a global institution that it is hard to know where to begin. How about the cover? “I Declare, Charlie Brown! Charles M. Schulz.” That’s it. As Schulz died in 2000, readers can safely assume this is not his story and these are not his drawings, and the record is corrected on the title page. Briefly, the Peanuts gang builds a treehouse, which Lucy quickly occupies and demands a tax to enter. Forget that this is not a tax but an admission fee—this allows Reeves and Barnes to introduce taxation without representation and the impetus for the American Revolution (which gets stone-skipping detail in the backmatter). The text is painfully wooden: “They settled some of the very first colonies in America. By the mid-1770s, thirteen colonies were thriving.” Unlike George III (and, for that matter, Schulz’s Lucy), Reeves and Barnes’ Lucy sees the light and joins the gang for a tea party. Brannon’s digital artwork has a wobbly, mouse-drawn look, giving the characters a sickly look. To add insult to injury, the text doesn’t always match the illustrations. “ ‘Lucy is coming! Lucy is coming!’ Pigpen sounded the alarm.” As it happens, Pigpen is nowhere to be found.

Good grief! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62157-334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.


A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own.

In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy’s text describes what “Black is” physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as “the braids in my best friend’s hair,” to the conceptual: “Black is soft-singing, ‘Hush now, don’t explain’ ”—a reference to the song “Don’t Explain” made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, and “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-631-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future.


From the Baloney & Friends series , Vol. 1

A new chapter-book series promises tons of fun for everyone.

Baloney the pig couldn’t be happier about starring in his very own book—until pals Peanut D. Horse, Bizz E. Bee, and Krabbit (a crabby rabbit) crash the introduction, leaving him frustrated. Baloney perseveres and goes on to star in several, short comic book–style stories that often break the fourth wall and that always rely on the very different personalities of the characters to deliver humor. Peanut is a Pollyanna and just a bit daffy. Bizz is a sensible, thoughtful bee-ing. Krabbit is so crabby he’d give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money. Baloney? Well, Baloney is a sensitive sort who, in two longer episodes, wants to entertain his friends with a magic show and join in their fun at swimming. Shorter “mini-comics” between these sections provide good breaks for new readers who are, perhaps, just starting to make their ways through a longer text like this. Pizolli saves the strongest story for last, delivering a sweet and satisfying portrait of Peanut’s kindness to her friend Baloney when he feels blue. And readers needn’t feel blue themselves that the story is over since they can follow handy backmatter instructions to draw their own versions of the simple, line-drawn characters.

Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05454-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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