Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist.

THE GOTHAMITES

Wise men become fools to escape excessive demands in this Estonian import.

The male Gothamites of Turkeyland, renowned for their wisdom, travel extensively, advising foreign heads of state—while their homeland, run by the womenfolk, falls into chaos. The desperate women plead for them to return, and upon doing so, the men decide that they must behave stupidly so their services will no longer be desired outside of Turkeyland. Ten short stories follow in the best noodlehead folklore tradition: A group of fools with tangled legs cannot get up because they don’t know which feet are theirs; another one attempts to catch light in a sack. The richly colored, Brueghel-like illustrations feature intricate, comical scenes of the Gothamites in all their splendid incompetence (and cheekily tuck in a hammer and sickle). In keeping with the sexism of the text, the big-bosomed and -bottomed women are clad in slip dresses even in the dead of winter; the men are modestly attired. Turkeyland seems to be Northern European, and all characters appear white apart from one black boy wearing a sweatsuit. The lengthy text and small-scale illustrations make this suitable for independent reading or one-on-one sharing. It may appeal to readers who enjoy the absurd and the slapstick, although many stories feel too long, diluting the impact of the humor—the printing of page numbers upside down underscores the loopiness.

Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939810-28-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud.

IT'S NOT THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

From the It's Not a Fairy Tale series , Vol. 4

It’s good to embrace change.

Although an unseen narrator attempts to tell an accustomed version of “The Three Little Pigs”—here named Alan, Alfred, and Alvin Albert—their younger sister, Alison, wants to get in on the action because she’s a natural storyteller. The narrator grudgingly allows Alison to tag along, but her added bits of flavor and the unexpected personalities of her brothers soon send the story off its traditional tracks and into hilarious hijinks. For example, Alan’s love of building allows him to design a functional house made of plastic drinking straws, Alfred’s stick house is actually constructed by Alan because Alfred’s clearly a star and not stage crew, and Alvin’s shacking up in a pumpkin behind Cinderella’s castle because he’s…not the crispiest piece of bacon on the plate. Alison’s quick thinking leads the brothers to be one step ahead of the wandering wolf. When the narrator hits their limit, a conversation with Alison proves that collaboration can lead to unexpected but wonderful results. The story flows well, accompanied by energetic cartoon art, and the choice to color-code the speech bubbles of each character (and the text of the narrator vs. Alison) ensures readers will be able to follow the snappy dialogue. Those who love to make up their own stories will be inspired, and readers who march to the beats of their own drums will be delighted. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-3243-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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