THE CROWN AFFAIR

Noir whodunit in the land of Mother Goose.

When Jack loses his crown after falling down that hill, who better to crack the case than hard-boiled Joe Dumpty, private eye? (Joe made his rep by solving the mystery surrounding his brother in What REALLY Happened to Humpty?, 2009.) Jill leaps over the yellow crime-scene tape to meet him at the hill. Jack's eyes look like pinwheels as he tells Joe what he remembers; dizzy Jill can't add much more. Spider goes over the crime scene with a fine-tooth comb...literally! Joe visits the Sprats, who are fighting; could it be about the crown? Jack B. Nimble is on crutches; he fell while practicing his candle-jumping. He's an unlikely suspect. And in the house that Jack built, "Goldy" describes a suspicious encounter with the Muffin Man. Joe grills this sailor-suited gourmand, who implicates yet another Jack, the one who went up the beanstalk. While Joe visits this sulky Jack, Spider takes a trip up the beanstalk to talk to the giant. Between them, they solve the crime, and just in time. Joe and Spider can tackle their next case: The cow has jumped over the moon and hasn't been seen since. The pun-packed yarn may go over the heads of younger readers, but their grown-ups will chuckle, and everyone will enjoy the impish twists on familiar images in Axelsen's Photoshop illustrations.

Genuinely clever. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-552-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...

HOW TO READ A BOOK

A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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