The quality remains consistently high for this series, linking edibles and emotions with excitement and ease.

SHORT & SWEET

From the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series , Vol. 4

A technological treatment goes awry for these fan favorites, creating monstrously good fun.

When Sir French Toast and Lady Pancake start to turn green with decay (gasp!), a new treatment offered by Professor Biscotti malfunctions, turning them into children. Baron von Waffle, their enemy-turned-friend from previous episodes, is struck with remorse for recommending the procedure and tampering with nature. But the shrunken versions of Toast and Pancake do not remember him. Thinking he is a monster, they run away over various obstacles made of other foods. In this fourth installment of the adventures of these clever fridge friends, the syncopated text shines, building the suspense and pace with rhyming couplets. The illustrations continue their gastronomic creativity, with Fjords of Farfalle and Bran Canyons and buildings created out of everyday foodstuffs for each picture. In the end, Waffle cooks up a sweet solution for returning the shrunken Toast and Pancake to normal. The underlying theme about fixing problems one has created is subtle, and forgiveness reigns among the entire royal cast. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.3% of actual size.)

The quality remains consistently high for this series, linking edibles and emotions with excitement and ease. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3427-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An action-packed romp.

EVEN SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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