Slightly subversive and a lot of fun.

KEVIN THE UNICORN

IT'S NOT ALL RAINBOWS

From the Kevin the Unicorn series

What could make a unicorn have a bad day?

“Everyone knows that unicorns are perfect,” starts this gleefully ill-tempered story. Cartoonish unicorns prance around a garishly bright landscape, skateboarding down rainbows and leaping over cupcakes. So when Kevin “[wakes] up on the floor,” he knows that he has no choice but to “KEEP IT HAPPY.” Motivational posters encourage him to “SPARKLE MORE,” he zooms down Cheerful Drive and Upbeat Avenue, and aggressive billboards warn residents to “ALWAYS BE A HAPPY-CORN!” But negative experiences—an empty gas tank in the middle of a rainstorm, a steaming cup of clam juice instead of glitter soda, and a pack of hungry dogs—pile up. Kevin tries to keep a smile on his face but it becomes an increasingly forced grin, then a rictus. He finally snaps, yelling: “This is a really horrible, lousy, awful day!” After the slight awkwardness that follows the breaking of a unicorn social contract, Kevin’s friends start to open up about their own trials and tribulations. Blending the timeless wisdom of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with a slight parody of current trends, this picture book is an excellent antidote to the cult of positive thinking.

Slightly subversive and a lot of fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1430-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more