An exciting escapade with an unlikely hero and a not-so-secret message about the power of books.

LYRIC MCKERRIGAN, SECRET LIBRARIAN

Who will save the world’s books from peril? None other than Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian!

When Dr. Glockenspiel escapes from his cell in the Depository for the Criminally Naughty, not even the “best secret agents” can stop his plot to destroy every book with his “army of giant moths.” The world needs a hero who “loves books so much that she would risk her life to save them.” With her crafty disguises and unrivaled knowledge of titles for every reader, purple-haired Lyric McKerrigan sneaks past the defenses in Dr. Glockenspiel’s Arctic-iceberg lair, frees the secret agents, and turns the evil plot on its head. The comic-book format and the vibrant colors that fill every page match the high-energy tone and dramatic flair of the text. Brosgol packs the illustrations with amusing details that add something new to discover with every reading. Lyric soars into action on a book-shaped parachute and passes out such titles as If You Give a Mouse a Contract and How to Win Friends & Influence Henchmen. In the background, on a security-camera screen, a henchman picks his nose. While Lyric, the henchmen, and Dr. Glockenspiel are white, the secret agents, Arctic lair security guard, and concerned citizens depict a more racially diverse world.

An exciting escapade with an unlikely hero and a not-so-secret message about the power of books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-80122-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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