Playful indeed. Preschoolers will line up for a turn.


Another digital (in the original sense of the term) adventure from the reigning grand master of no-tech gaming.

Following genial directions in a “hand-lettered” typeface called Hervé Tullet Whimsy, readers can make a slightly-larger-than-thumb-sized yellow circle shift position by pressing different spots (and then turning the page). This is prelude to a fingertip odyssey—traveled by “pushing” the dot along a continuous inked line that bounces, loops, climbs stairs, snakes through a thicket of streaks and dots for a bit of hide-and-seek, creeps into a dark passage and past obstacles, halts temporarily at a red light, then breaks into a series of increasingly exuberant spirals. The dot finally follows the line off the edge of the last page, leaving behind a tempting “Hey! Do you want to come back sometime and play some more?” The general idea has been carried through more elaborate, concrete iterations in a direct line that leads from Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon to Laura Ljundqvist’s Follow the Line (2006) and sequels. Still, the spot offers an engaging ongoing commentary, which ranges from “Oooooh WOW ooooooo!” to “EEEEK! We better leave on tiptoe…” and (for a spread of chaotic black scribbles) “I really don’t like this page. You see why now, don’t you?” It encourages a broad range of emotional reactions and responses from fellow travelers to go along with the physical interactivity.

Playful indeed. Preschoolers will line up for a turn. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5477-0

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...


This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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