In the end, we are not amused.

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THE DUMPY PRINCESS

No doubt meant to be droll, this arch fictionalized biography of the girl who became Queen Victoria misses the mark. 

Most of the facts are here: her six unsatisfactory uncles, her beloved dog Dash, her ascension to the throne at age 18. There is a glimpse of Albert, her royal first cousin, whom she loved and who would become her spouse. But the text focuses on the years before: People call her Vicky; much is made of her lack of chin and lack of height; her mother keeps her under tight control. All of her mother's dialogue is written in a Hogan's Heroes–esque, German-accented English, which just doesn't seem very funny in the 21st century. The Duchess, her mother, on her late husband: “How fine he vos! And vot a great kink he vould haf mate, eef his horrid brudders hadn't been born before him. How dey all hated each udder!” The villainous Sir John Conroy, who worked with Victoria's mother to make her utterly dependent (and whom she instantly dismissed from court upon her coronation), plays his part, as does Lehzen, Victoria's cherished governess. The brightly colored illustrations are exaggerated and cartoony, a good match for the text.

In the end, we are not amused.   (chronology, list of kings and queens) (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84780-083-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark.

LITTLE.COM

When your computer powers down, the little “dot” is off-duty. You don’t think it just sits there, do you?

In this tipsy flight from Steadman, originally published overseas in 2000, the tidy dot on the first page is quickly transformed into mad splotches of black sporting googly eyes. It zooms through cyberspace to have tea—or, rather ink (“I LOVE INK!”)—with “my friend the Duchess of Amalfi,” and then goes off to spatter the besieging Duke of Bogshott and his white-uniformed army. Serving largely as an excuse for the illustrator to wield pen and brush ever more ferociously across a series of spreads, this free-associative plotline culminates with an invitation to attend the wedding of the duke and duchess as “Best Dot” (“I was so excited I made a mess on her carpet”) and a quick return home: “And here I am, ready to work for you again—dot dot dot.” As a clever riff on the internet, this doesn’t hold a pixel to Randi Zuckerberg and Joel Berger’s Dot. (2013) or Goodnight iPad by “Ann Droid” (2011), and the illustrator’s whacked-out mite isn’t going to take young readers on the sort of imagination-stretching artistic rides that Peter Reynolds’ The Dot (2003) or Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) offer. But it does at least dispense exuberantly unrestrained permission to paint outside the lines.

The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56792-520-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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FAIRY HANDBOOK

“Do fairies exist? The answer is a definite, energetic, resounding and unquestionable Yes.” Suggesting that anyone who has ever felt inexplicably grumpy, happy, scatterbrained, loving or giggly has been influenced by a particular kind of fairy, Carretero proceeds to catalog fairy types, habitats (country fairies have “hot pollen for breakfast” and do “complicated yoga exercises”) and yearly celebrations. An album at the end provides six pages of fairy types (kissy-kissy, bubbly, brainy—in glasses, natch—etc.), and the book concludes with a few fairy activities. Showing a fondness for bright flowers and checkerboard patterns, she illustrates the tour with luminous watercolor scenes featuring gatherings of wide-eyed winged girls (all fairies being “half girl and half insect”) with extra-long pipestem limbs flitting gracefully about a range of urban and rural settings. Next to Sally Gardner’s more clever and comprehensive Fairy Catalogue (2001) this comes off as sweet fare, but thin—and the single-page multicultural fairy gallery includes some stereotyping, with a German fairy identified by the sausage at the end of her wand and an omnibus “Oriental” fairy next to others from specific countries. Like its diminutive subjects, easy to miss. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-84-937814-9-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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