He may be a master of suspense, but the only mystery surrounding Coben’s first foray into picture books may be why he wrote...

THE MAGICAL FANTASTICAL FRIDGE

When his mother instructs him to set the table for an extended family dinner, Walden rebels; he’d rather have an adventure than deal with boring relatives.

Walden gets his wish when one of his crayon drawings sucks him into the art on the fridge. Hopping from one bit of refrigerator detritus to the next, he moves through coupons, photographs, ads, and more, eventually escaping with a better appreciation for home. The narrative is composed primarily of Walden’s expository exclamations as he moves from ticket stub to birthday invitation and beyond. The intention here appears to be to inspire kids to use what’s stuck on their own home fridges to create their own adventures. Yet Walden’s travels are so arbitrary and without plot that when at last he escapes the fridge, the statement that home with family is “the best PLACE in the WHOLE WORLD” is unearned. Debut artist Tinari, whose art Coben discovered on the wall of one of his favorite restaurants, brings to the book a wild sensibility; she’s unafraid to toy with panels, styles, and narrative jump-cuts, and the text is hand-lettered, with frequent and distracting changes in style. Readers may occasionally have difficulty connecting to her figures, since they do not always resemble one another from one page to the next.

He may be a master of suspense, but the only mystery surrounding Coben’s first foray into picture books may be why he wrote such a convoluted hodgepodge. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42803-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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