A pleasingly solid retelling.



Souhami gives “The Fisherman and His Wife” a hopeful twist.

Souhami’s backmatter author’s note explains that she wanted to retell this old tale with sympathy for the characters, whom she resists depicting as they appear in other versions: “a horrible, greedy and nagging old woman” and “a weak, hen-pecked milksop.” Instead, she presents a couple worn down by poverty who are grateful when the magic fish grants their wish for “a small dry cottage…a blue teapot…[a]nd some bread and cheese in the larder.” They’re satisfied for a month before greed brings them back to the sea with grander wishes for status and material wealth. The duration of the couple’s contentment diminishes with every new wish granted, until the fish finally returns them to their initial state of poverty. But Souhami doesn’t leave them in dire straits. Instead, a closing picture shows them happily trying to net fish above text that reads, “But I hope that they caught lots of ordinary fish to sell at the market. And that they gradually became happy. What do you think?” Along with this use of direct address, expressive collage art that evokes something of Margot Zemach’s style will engage readers with depictions of the increasingly exasperated magic fish and how the couple and their home are transformed from scene to scene with their increasing wealth.

A pleasingly solid retelling. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-91095-918-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.


The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.


From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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