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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A sweet sisterhood seaside story.


Little Jules is determined to impress her big sister with an amazing sand castle…

…but the Ocean has other plans! Sima’s story hinges on Jules’ adoration of her big sister (unnamed and with slightly darker brown skin than Jules’ and their mom’s). When Mom brings them to the beach, Jules immediately starts building while her sister goes off with a boogie board. Jules toils away, and as the tide rolls in, the Ocean demolishes her creation. While Jules takes the Ocean’s destruction personally, her sister says, “this happens to everyone” before heading back out to the waves. Jules is discouraged as she sees other kids’ impressive, still-standing sand castles, but she persists only to be thwarted again by the Ocean. Her lowest point comes when the tides sweep away her bucket. Big sister comes to the rescue—not to save it but to help build another castle, using only their hands. It’s “definitely the BIGGEST…FANCIEST…MOST EXCELLENT” castle, but then, “Uh-oh.” A massive, spread-spanning CRASH! both obliterates the castle and leaves Jules and her sister exhilarated, and they race back to tell their mom what’s happened. In a twist that feels lifted from a Bob Graham story, “Mom assures them that happens to everyone.” Sima’s big-nosed cartoons are also reminiscent of Graham’s, in both the character-developing details (Jules’ ears stick out through her bobbed haircut endearingly) and their obvious affection for one another.

A sweet sisterhood seaside story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4168-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.


Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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