Amusing, well-crafted rhyme and meter make this a bouncy, fun take on a familiar story.


The famous fairy tale gets a fresh outing in verse in this illustrated children’s book for young readers.

In The Golden Ball (2011), Sinclair offered a retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s story “The Frog Prince,” in rhyming, iambic-tetrameter couplets. Here, the author again retools a traditional tale, this time using rhyming anapestic tetrameter, which has the da-da-DUM rise-and-fall rhythm of a waltz. In Sinclair’s version, the first pig builds a straw shack on the beach; the second, a log cabin in the woods; and the third, a brick house on top of a hill. In a kindly twist on the original, however, the pigs escape rather than being eaten, and the wolf runs away instead of being boiled alive. The flat illustrations are sometimes overly geometrical, like construction-paper cutouts. However, they still add color and charm to the overall story, and the pigs are especially cute. Sinclair’s choice of meter scans well—with no thrown-in words just to make the pattern come out right—and it works perfectly with the story’s familiar refrain, which is nicely elaborated: “ ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’ said the terrible wolf with a terrible frown.” Passages like these beg to be read aloud, and the author even appends a guide to doing so for parents, which explains the poetic form and includes a link to Sinclair’s website and her own out-loud reading. The story also very much lends itself to parents and children adding their own wolfy snarls, piggy squeals and other sound effects. Some vocabulary may be challenging for young readers, but not overly so: “In no time I’ll dine on all three of you most uncooperative swine!”

Amusing, well-crafted rhyme and meter make this a bouncy, fun take on a familiar story.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937186777

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Chthonicity Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2014

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.


A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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