A good idea drowns in unnecessary excess.

MOM GOES TO WAR

Great intentions yield few rewards in this well-meaning, plodding explanation of breast cancer for kids.

A king and a queen call their sons in for a consultation. The queen reports that there is a rebellion underway, but it’s not in the kingdom. The rebellion is of breast-cancer cells, and the battlefield her body. Using martial terminology, the queen is able to answer her sons’ questions and calm their fears, walking them through the entire process of this “war.” Unlike similar books for a younger crowd, this title eschews avoiding frightening topics and uses an unusual approach to make the discussion about fighting cancer both straightforward and appealing. Sadly, troubles abound. Martín loads the book down with excess text, overloading readers from the start. The conceit—royal family, war terminology of many eras—lends itself to mixed metaphors. Most worrisome, at no point do the words “radiation” or “chemotherapy” appear. Instead faux treatments with names like “Scalpozap” and “Extermamide” muddy the issue. Silly, simplistic art adds little to the narrative, sometimes making things worse by displaying frighteningly huge syringes and pills.

A good idea drowns in unnecessary excess. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-84-15503-20-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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