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

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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