More exhausting than entertaining.

THE RESCUE RABBITS

Animals in trouble? Who you gonna call? Rescue Rabbits!

Ace, Chip, Dot, and Spot are the Rescue Rabbits. From Rescue Rabbit Headquarters, they use their high-tech gadgets and machines as well as their smarts to rescue animals of all species. They lift Edgar Elephant with their Rescue Rabbits Super-Excavator in order to extract a thorn from his foot. They block traffic with their Rescue Rabbits Limo to allow the Duckling family to cross the street. But their big rescue of the day begins with a call on their Special-Ops Telephone: Prince Rex the Rhino is stuck up a tree with ants in his pants and chopsticks up his nose. When they locate him, the ants and the chopsticks are easy to take care of, but getting him out of the tree proves difficult. He won’t use a ladder or a rope. The Rescue Rabbits bring in Queen Rex, who scares her kid out of the tree and promptly forgives him for using her chopsticks to free her ants from her ant farm. Seltzer’s text unfolds in a combination of speech bubbles and narrative text with tech-words highlighted in red. The perfusion of technobabble does not hide the fact that the story itself is forced. Garrigue’s Richard Scarry–esque cartoons also try too hard, and the combo makes less sense that it ought.

More exhausting than entertaining. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4263-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Well-nigh Wondrous.

IT FELL FROM THE SKY

When a strange orb falls into their habitat, the Spider commandeers it, constructing “WonderVille” and selling tickets to long lines of curious insects.

The object (readers will recognize it as a yellow-green marble) invites considerable speculation. Is it a gumdrop, a comet, a chrysalis? The Spider, nixing the chatter, asserts that “whatever it is, it most certainly belongs to me,” insisting that the sphere has fallen into his web. He constructs a “Grand Exhibit” to showcase “the Wonder from the Sky.” As lines of visitors lengthen, admission increases from one leaf to two—then more—until visitors cease. The Spider presumes they’ve gone to invite prospective customers. That self-aggrandizing assumption is rendered moot by “the Unexpected Disaster. / A five-legged creature stole the Wonder and took it back to the sky.” (This deus ex machina is a child’s hand.) Time passes, WonderVille reverts to its previous state, and insects return. The Spider, ignored, experiences a nighttime epiphany as stars shine down. “They didn’t hide their light from anyone. Not even a selfish Spider.” Patiently, he spins webs, and “sure enough, more Wonders fell from the sky.” In graphite-gray spreads rife with delicate flora, colorful new “Wonders” (a thimble, pushpin, Lego, and more) captivate the neighborhood—free of charge. The Fans’ marvelous illustrations sparkle with nuance, from lofting dandelion seeds to the Spider’s dew-dropped web. The pro-community message is slightly undermined by the choice to portray a gendered, top-hatted, preponderantly male cast. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Well-nigh Wondrous. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5762-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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