Fans of the Magnolia Says Don’t! series and of mild chaos will get a kick out of this.



From the Magnolia Says Don't! series

A rollicking adventure awaits as Magnolia races into a store with her Christmas list trailing behind her.

In the vein of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this cumulative story explains why “pirates are on the naughty list.” Magnolia is superexcited to meet Santa at the mall. The little girl decides to let a “bearded guy with a red suit and a bag full of treasures” who is definitely not Santa (he’s fishing pennies out of a fountain) join her family in the long line, promising her father that she’ll teach the pirate some manners. There’ll be no pillaging or plundering in the Santa line! But the pirate isn’t interested in manners. He bellows, “OOOOOOOOOH! / A hog-eye ship! And a hog-eye crew! / A hog-eye mate! And a skipper too!” at the top of his lungs, alarming the other people in line. The pirate is highly entertaining, the father oblivious, and the wait seemingly endless. But Magnolia takes charge until the pirate “changes his scurvy ways.” Fun, brightly colored illustrations (digitally drawn and painted) are perfect for the cartoonlike characters with exaggerated features. Varied perspectives amp the silliness high. The pirate epitomizes the conflicted feelings of a kid wanting to be patient and good so that their parents will reward them and bursting out with loud, bad behavior because they just can’t sit still. Magnolia, who appears to be Asian, is the oldest sibling in her interracial family; both Santa and the pirate present white.

Fans of the Magnolia Says Don’t! series and of mild chaos will get a kick out of this. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-46677-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.


From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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