A fine addition to the fairy-tale shelves. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

HANSEL & GRETEL

Hobbie’s stripped-down retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” maintains a high degree of fidelity to the classic fairy tale, while her illustrations reveal a rich array of artistic influences on her visual interpretation of the story.

Befitting the tragic beginnings of the tale, Hobbie eschews the pastoral, light style she’s known for in her eponymous commercial illustrations and in the Toot and Puddle books. Eerie, dark landscapes abound, and shades of German expressionism are apparent in the hollow, gaunt faces of the woodcutter and his wife, while the children’s waiflike but spritely depictions bring to mind the earthy style of illustrator Brock Cole. The witch, meanwhile, is white of face, round of form, and spindly-limbed, making her reminiscent of the wicked crones found in Anthony Browne’s and Lisbeth Zwerger’s retellings of the same tale. This is not to say that Hobbie’s work is derivative, and given her usual style, it’s remarkable that her strongest pictures are those that indulge in the dark and dreary. There are also some marvelous, cheery compositions, including the one depicting the children’s reunion with their father. Here, he stands before a white sheet hanging on the line, creating a natural bright highlight behind his open arms as his children run toward him.

A fine addition to the fairy-tale shelves. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-07017-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers.

LOUIS

A hug is a powerful thing.

Louis, a stuffed teddy bear, has grievances: His owner, a dark-haired kid with light-brown skin, has mistreated Louis in a variety of ways, including using the bear as a hankie, burying the toy in the sand, and subjecting him to the terrors of the washing machine. After Louis suffers the final indignity—almost being left behind on public transportation—the bear plans to make his escape. Savvy readers may surmise that Louis’ heart isn’t completely in this grand departure, as the teddy delays based on rain, cupcake-filled tea parties, and being the star of show-and-tell due to bravery during the bus incident. When the perfect moment to desert finally arrives, a last-minute hug helps Louis realize how much the kid loves and appreciates him. It’s a charming, genuinely sweet ending to a well-crafted story that leaves lots of openings for Rowan-Zoch’s boldly colored, crisp cartoon artwork to deliver a vibrant pop that will be appreciated in both large storytimes and intimate lap reads. Louis is marvelously expressive, panicking, glaring, and unexpectedly softening by turns. Caregivers and educators may see an opportunity in the story to engage in creative writing or storytelling based on the readers’ own favorite stuffed friends. Louis’ owner’s mom appears in one scene wearing a salwar kameez, suggesting the family is of South Asian heritage.

Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-49806-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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