A sweet sisterhood seaside story.

JULES VS. THE OCEAN

Little Jules is determined to impress her big sister with an amazing sand castle…

…but the Ocean has other plans! Sima’s story hinges on Jules’ adoration of her big sister (unnamed and with slightly darker brown skin than Jules’ and their mom’s). When Mom brings them to the beach, Jules immediately starts building while her sister goes off with a boogie board. Jules toils away, and as the tide rolls in, the Ocean demolishes her creation. While Jules takes the Ocean’s destruction personally, her sister says, “this happens to everyone” before heading back out to the waves. Jules is discouraged as she sees other kids’ impressive, still-standing sand castles, but she persists only to be thwarted again by the Ocean. Her lowest point comes when the tides sweep away her bucket. Big sister comes to the rescue—not to save it but to help build another castle, using only their hands. It’s “definitely the BIGGEST…FANCIEST…MOST EXCELLENT” castle, but then, “Uh-oh.” A massive, spread-spanning CRASH! both obliterates the castle and leaves Jules and her sister exhilarated, and they race back to tell their mom what’s happened. In a twist that feels lifted from a Bob Graham story, “Mom assures them that happens to everyone.” Sima’s big-nosed cartoons are also reminiscent of Graham’s, in both the character-developing details (Jules’ ears stick out through her bobbed haircut endearingly) and their obvious affection for one another.

A sweet sisterhood seaside story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4168-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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