Hap-pee-ly–ever-after reading fun.

THE PRINCE AND THE PEE

Laugh-out-loud potty humor.

Gormley’s story mines fairy-tale tropes as well as toilet humor to deliver laughs. It opens with Prince Freddie on holiday, sunbathing and drinking lemonade. His talking horse, Sir Rushington, interrupts his vacation to tell the prince a dragon is laying siege to Castle Crumbly. After Freddie “gulp[s] down the very last drop of his lemonade,” they’re off! Alas, the horse’s “Up and down. Up and down. Up and down” trot, not to mention the bodies of water, a waterfall, and rain that Mould illustrates in his uproarious acrylic illustrations, soon make the armor-clad Freddie painfully aware of his full bladder. Repeated pit stops for him to relieve himself are interrupted by a terrifying ogre, a princess in a tower (“How very awkward,” sympathizes Sir Rushington), and a very long bathroom line formed by the Big Bad Wolf, Puss in Boots, and the Seven Dwarfs. (Adult female caregivers will note the irony that every single person in this line is implied male.) When they finally arrive at Castle Crumbly, Prince Freddie is so desperate that he plows right by the dragon, who sets the castle ablaze. Luckily, Prince Freddie eschews the throne room and stands atop a turret instead, well-positioned to douse the flames below: “And suddenly there was an almighty sizzle.” Freddie and all other humanoids save the green ogre are white.

Hap-pee-ly–ever-after reading fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9916-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Pleasant but slightly pedestrian.

THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

Fairy-tale fun for everyone. (Except trolls.)

Barnett and Klassen partner for a retelling of the classic folktale about a trio of variously sized goats (all named Gruff) and a troll whose greed ultimately leads to his downfall. The story has been told many times, but in this variation, Barnett shows off for his audience by giving the troll a substantial amount of dialogue, most of which rhymes: “I love goat! Let me count the ways. / Goat rump in a honey glaze. / Goat smoked, goat poached, a goat pot roast. / Goat smorgasbord! Goat smeared on toast! / A goat kale salad—hold the kale. / Goat escargot! (That’s goat plus snails.) / On goat I’ll dine, on goat I’ll sup. / You little goat, I’ll eat you up!” It’s amusing verbal play, and librarians and caregivers who love to read out loud will enjoy hamming it up, although it may lessen the scary impact of the character. Likewise, the artwork, created in ink, watercolor, and graphite and compiled digitally, is pure Klassen, and the brown, green, and blue tones combine into an earthy setting where the ratlike troll (sans tail) fits in perfectly. But the visual reveal of the third billy goat takes a bit of oomph out of the story, as readers will be able to anticipate that this troll won’t be having goat strudel anytime soon. Fans of either Barnett or Klassen will love this retelling, but librarians won’t be sending their Paul Galdone or Jerry Pinkney retellings out to pasture just yet. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pleasant but slightly pedestrian. (Folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-3386-7384-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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