Too finicky by half to have its day in court.

"The Princess and the Pea," courtesy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the princess and the pea is about exquisite sensitivities—of the upper crust in the original, here mainlined into the hoi polloi as what looks rather plainly to be obsessive compulsion. Perhaps the reason behind the relocation was for identification purposes, but Princess Rosebud, aka Princess Fussy in this nattering story, isn’t anyone upon whom readers will want to pin their prospects. This princess likes things just so: Her crayons on the table must be like this, the sand in her bathing suit (none, that is) like that, the stretch of her socks comme ça, labels removed from all shirts and, forefend, no peas touching the carrots on her dinner plate. When the last shatters her world, she shoves the plate off the table, gets sent to her room and later apologizes. After her father reads her the original story (tipped in as separate folio leaves on successive spreads), she has a bad night’s sleep thanks to a wayward marble and is confirmed a princess. As it were. Foster’s eye-easy artwork, with its soft colors and comfortable, retro lines, can’t elevate Princess Rosebud to enchanted status.

Too finicky by half to have its day in court. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60905-250-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

Close Quickview