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


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 chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).


From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A strong series start.


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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