Even Vikings need to sleep.

Not that rumbustious sibs Hack and Whack seem to believe that. When their mother calls them to bed, the children, appropriately hacking and whacking at each other with wooden ax and sword, resist energetically. “NOOOOOOOOOOO! We are HACK and WHACK on the attack!” is their refrain. The pint-sized warriors proceed to lay waste to their village, wreaking chaos on page after page as hapless Viking adults in horned helmets and breastplates look on. Both dialogue (in horned speech balloons) and sound effects emphasize the sound “ack”: “THWACK THWACK / CLICKETY… / CLACK” accompany visuals in which Hack and Whack tip over an occupied (and, judging by the sign on its door, wheelchair-accessible) outhouse. The kids roust all their friends for a climactic melee, after which their mom “sneaks” up on them, “smacks” them each on the head (the blow is not illustrated, but the children are depicted in cartoon-reeling mode, with stars and weaponry circling above their dazed heads), and bathes them before tucking them into their little longship-shaped beds. The story is slapstick violence start to finish, Cotterill’s busy spreads filled with Hack and Whack’s gleeful mayhem. All the Vikings are white, and their uniformly unkempt hair bristles in red, blond, and brown. Hack sports pigtails and a leather dress, while Whack wears short hair and a jerkin; evidently Viking violence is not gender-specific.

Exhausting . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-32871-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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


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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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...


From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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