Although the alternative narrative tries a little too hard to explain the morals of the story, this is a clever update of a...

GRIMM'S FROG KING

This version of the traditional Grimm Brothers' fairy tale of a frog under a curse and the self-absorbed princess he needs to save him offers an alternative reading and lots of extras.

Read the familiar story through, then start over with the "Version with a Funny Twist," which provides a running commentary and an alternative ending. This format explores the morals of the story while questioning the archaic "princess marries the handsome prince and lives happily ever after" theme. Amid the sounds of chirping frogs, the optional British-accented narration (also available in German) transports readers to the royal gardens. Filled with humans and amphibians that vocalize when touched, the detailed and brightly colored illustrations can be enlarged for closer viewing—and readers are advised to look closely, as some of those details appear in a quiz at the end. Fairy-dust clues are easily spotted by little ones and indicate the simple touch and tilt animations. The games and jokes in the extras section are more fun than the story itself and include a fact page about frogs and toads and a prize to be won if the quiz is completed correctly.

Although the alternative narrative tries a little too hard to explain the morals of the story, this is a clever update of a classic that allows young readers to question old stereotypes. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: JustKidsApps

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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