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

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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