A fun-filled fractured-fairy-tale frolic.

READ REVIEW

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A BOOK

Fairy-tale and nursery-rhyme characters work together to solve a mystery of disappearing belongings and missing children.

The story’s clever concept references that famous Old Woman who lived in a shoe, but here the woman lives in a book-shaped house on a bookshelf along with many other well-known children’s-story characters such as Jack and Jill and the Three Bears. The Old Woman is actually a busy mother of six with springy, gray hair and a lively demeanor. When she discovers her children are missing, she visits the other book houses on the shelf to ask for help. Each of the characters is missing something, and they all follow along as a group to search for their items and the children. The Big Bad Wolf is the culprit, predictably, and the children are found hiding from him in the branches of surrounding trees along with their father, the Old Man of “knick-knack paddywhack” fame. The characters celebrate at a concluding party with treats provided by the Wicked Witch from her candy-covered cottage. Bright, cartoon-style illustrations are filled with amusing details from all the nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale settings. Though the buoyant illustrations and plot move along in a sprightly fashion, however, the dialogue (conveyed in speech bubbles) is rather pedestrian. The Old Woman and her children present white; some of the other human characters seem to be diverse.

A fun-filled fractured-fairy-tale frolic. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-49305-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...

HOW TO READ A BOOK

A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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