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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If a school pep rally could walk and talk, this kid would be it.


A great prescription for kids who tremble at the thought of their first day of school.

A young African American girl with deep brown skin, round cheeks, and an infectious smile spends her first day of school celebrating spirit in many ways. With her hair in two gigantic puffballs, she shows her school spirit with snazzy shoes (“STOMP, STOMP!”), her backpack (“ZIP, ZIP!”), and her “loud…clear” singing in class (“ABC, 123!”). Her spirit surfaces in onomatopoeic words on nearly every double-page spread, contributing to the high energy of the story. Morrison’s vibrant oil paintings, reminiscent of those by artist and NFL player Ernie Barnes, feature close-up perspectives of the little girl and everyone she encounters while they reveal lots of diversity both in her neighborhood and at school. She even has a black male teacher—a rare demographic in American elementary schools—who captivates his class during storytime. Like its predecessors, I Got the Rhythm(2014) and I Got the Christmas Spirit (2018), this picture book establishes a sentence pattern that persists, one that will help nascent readers predict what comes next. Each line begins with a personal pronoun and an active-voice verb—“I share,” “I breathe,” “we sing,” etc.—that exudes this protagonist’s enthusiasm for school.

If a school pep rally could walk and talk, this kid would be it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0261-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.


From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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