A kid traveling around the world in a box could be an imaginative premise for learning about various countries and cultures,...

BEAUREGARD IN A BOX

Young Beauregard dreams of seeing the world but is afraid of air and ocean travel, in this rhyming picture book

He solves his problem by mailing himself in a big box to Finland, then Bali, and then Australia. Unfortunately, awkward text distracts from his adventure with an overuse of exclamation points and language that sounds forced to make the facile rhyming work. Mailing May, by Michael O. Tunnell (1997), is a more engaging, even true story of a child actually traveling in a mailed box. Maybe that’s not the point; Beauregard’s adventures could conceivably entertain and pique interest in these countries—although there’s not enough information to make this work, either. For example, young American readers aren’t likely to know a “didgeridoo” is not an animal but rather a musical instrument considered sacred in Aboriginal culture, but it’s included in a list of Australian fauna (“roos, / koalas, wallabies, didgeridoos”). Bassani’s colorful illustrations outlined in thin black line contain potentially interesting information; spreads reminiscent of tourist postcards feature icons for cultural or physical aspects of the nation placed on a map, but there are no details about the places and artifacts. The choice to portray Beauregard—a child from Alabama who has the same name as a Confederate general—as African-American is either cleverly subversive or simply uninformed.

A kid traveling around the world in a box could be an imaginative premise for learning about various countries and cultures, but it’s not sufficiently fleshed out here. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-486713-84-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom.

I WILL BE FIERCE

A multicultural girl-power manifesto featuring a feisty young girl who faces her day as a knight on an epic quest.

The unnamed narrator puts on her “armor” (a rainbow sweater) and fills her “treasure chest” (a backpack). Venturing forth to “explore new worlds,” she drives back “dragons” (neighborhood dogs on their walk), boards the “many-headed serpent” (her school bus, with schoolmates’ heads protruding from every window), and visits “the Mountain of Knowledge” (the school library) to “solve the mysteries of the unknown.” After standing up for her beliefs—by joining a classmate sitting alone in the cafeteria—the young girl returns home to rest in the lap of an older female relative, possibly a grandparent/primary caregiver, to prepare for the next day, when she can be “fierce again.” Birdsong’s repeated refrain—“I will be fierce!”—underlines the unambiguous message of this sassy picture book, and Chanani’s bold and energetic illustrations reinforce the text’s punchy, feminist-y declarations. They depict a joyously multiracial environment, consciously tackling stereotypes with an elderly, white, female bus driver and a groovy, Asian-presenting librarian with a green streak in her hair. The fierce protagonist herself has brown skin and fluffy, dark brown hair, and her caregiver also has brown skin.

Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29508-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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