EVEN FAIRIES FART

Are fairy tales really as perfect as they seem?

Apparently, no. Stinson aims to reassure readers that, despite “magic dust” and happy endings, fairy tale creatures make mistakes too: “Yes, fairies fart the same as us.” In doing so, however, she makes an assumption that many readers will not share. Is farting an embarrassing indication of inadequacy, or is it just funny fodder for those with scatological senses of humor? Ultimately, these fairies don’t successfully engage either side of this debate. As a fart-humor book, it contains too few farts and too much moralizing (“Witches can be very whiny”). By creating false equivalence among a wide range of behaviors (cheating, falling, pants-wetting, bragging, and getting scared, among others), the book dilutes its effectiveness as an it’s-OK-to-be-imperfect text. The rhyme, at times grammatically awkward and trite, hobbles, with a loose regard for meter and scansion: “So if you fart or fuss or fail / or belch or beg or boast, / or think that you’re the single kid who messes up the most, / now you can remind yourself / that simply can’t be true.” Ashdown’s blend of pencil crayons, acrylic inks, and digital elements creates a colorful, textured world. Yet, the story’s heavy reliance on its white characters, with a few brown faces added in supporting roles, makes this world a little less than welcoming.

These fairies fall flat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243623-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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A warm and necessary message of empowerment for black children, helping them see that raising their hands is a celebration...

HANDS UP!

This picture book offers a different take on a black body raising “hands up.”

Vibrant, colorfully textured illustrations show different displays of black children raising hands, such as playing peekaboo, getting dressed, and other mundane activities. The book follows one little girl as she puts her hands up to do chores, to reach for books on a high shelf at the library, and even to assume the fifth position in ballet class. She holds up her bun as her grandmother does her hair, throws her arms up “in praise and worship,” and hoists a trophy after a victorious basketball game. Riding her bike with her hands up results in a fall, but there is a caring adult there to pick her back up. McDaniel sends a positive and affirming message that normalizes for black children the gesture of raising their hands, redeeming it from the very negative, haunting images of black people raising their hands while being confronted by police. The book closes with a bold illustration of children of all colors raising their hands and holding signs such as “Water = Life,” “Spread Love,” and “Black Lives Matter.” Evans employs a pastel palette that amplifies McDaniel’s sunny message. Outlines are done in purple, blue, brown—there are no literally black marks in this book.

A warm and necessary message of empowerment for black children, helping them see that raising their hands is a celebration of their humanity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55231-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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