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A roaring debut.

After Coralie befriends the lion in a traveling circus, the entire troupe spurns its dictatorial ringmaster.

Woods-dwelling Coralie swings from trees and juggles, unbound by rules. She’s “funny and brave and silly and strange” but lonely. When the boisterous little circus arrives, Coralie follows it. The Man in the Big Hat bosses everyone. “Less wobbling!” he tells the high-wire cat. “More bananas!” he shouts to the juggling chimp. When Coralie auditions, Lion roars appreciatively, but the Man in the Big Hat dismisses her tricks as “not good enough,” assigning her instead to be a “human cannonball.” Brave Coralie literally rises to the challenge: Easton frames her in midair, the amazed crowd a sea of faces far below. “ ‘ROAR!’ said Lion, which meant, ‘You were amazing!’ ” But the Man in the Big Hat excoriates her performance, banishing her and ordering the performers back to work: “More tricks! Less smiling! And absolutely no caring about each other!” This time, Lion roars so powerfully that man and hat blow clear away. Easton’s matte illustrations make striking use of red and black for the circus’ excitement. The ferny, blue-green woods and Lion’s radiating mane agreeably evoke earlier artists: John Burningham, Martin and Alice Provensen, even Henri Rousseau. Well-paced and patterned, the narrative offers fully seven opportunities for children to join in with a “ROAR.” Coralie and the Man with the Big Hat both present white; other human performers and the circus’s audience are diverse.

A roaring debut. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78603-031-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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