Insubstantial but properly atmospheric.



Projected images of the Dark Knight, his friends, foes, and gear.

Printed in black on clear acetate sheets, six projections are drawn in a style reminiscent of the original comics but simpler. They include: a group portrait of the costumed hero among such allies as Robin (the current one, identified as his son) and Alfred; a rogues’ gallery of adversaries; and views of the Bat Signal, the Batmobile, and the Caped Crusader leaping solo to the attack. The card stock leaves are spiral bound so that each appropriately gloomy scene can be held open in one hand while the other uses a small light source (a wide-angled one works best) to project the images on a ceiling or, for more sharply focused results, a nearby wall. Black supplies patronizing instructions for use (“If it’s too dark to read, you can alternate between shining the light through the projection window and onto the words”—duh), generalized background on Batman’s work and largely but not entirely white world (Batwing is black in the comics if not obviously so here), and, at the end, an invitation to draw an action scene using a dry-erase marker on a final, blank, plastic sheet. There’s no storyline, but the gimmick makes this a natural accompaniment for the more-coherent likes of Ralph Cosentino’s Batman (2008) or Kelly Puckett and Jon J Muth’s Batman’s Dark Secret (2015).

Insubstantial but properly atmospheric. (Novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68383-444-1

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Insight Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.


A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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