Real aspiring actors should be warned that it’s not going to be that easy. Still, a feel-good story any way you slice it.

PHIL PICKLE

Most pickles just wait for their turns to be served with burgers and fries. Not Phil.

No, Phil yearns to be an actor. Ignoring the sour naysayers in his jar, he’s already hired an agent and scheduled an audition (for a laundry commercial). But does he have what it takes to beat the teeming competition? Shouldering past both a waiting-room crowd and a moment of weakness (“I’m nothing but a glorified condiment”), he gives it his all—and, despite an abrupt dismissal, learns later that he’s landed the gig! In cartoon illustrations paired to Herzog’s legibly hand-lettered narrative, Canby outfits her warty wannabe thespian with big round spectacles and dresses him, as he acts out his dreams, in a closet full of imaginary costumes. Not only is Phil instantly the talk of the entire grocery store, but he “became an inspiration to pickles everywhere.” Better yet, when jar mate Helen Pickle later declares her determination to become a kickboxer, even the sourest pickles cheer her on.

Real aspiring actors should be warned that it’s not going to be that easy. Still, a feel-good story any way you slice it. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4413-1933-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.

WEDGIEMAN

A HERO IS BORN

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel.

CHIRRI & CHIRRA

From the Chirri & Chirra series

In this Japanese import, the first in a long-running series to appear in English, two girls ride bikes through a forest—with stops for clover-blossom tea and jam sandwiches.

It’s such a benign wood that Chirri and Chirra—depicted as a prim pair of identical twins with straight bob cuts—think nothing of sharing both a lunch spot and a nap beneath a tree with a bear and a rabbit. Moreover, at convenient spots along the way there is a forest cafe with a fox waiter plus “tables and chairs of all different size” to accommodate the diverse forest clientele, a bakery offering “bread in all different shapes and jam in all different colors,” and, just as the sun goes down, a forest hotel with similarly diverse keys and doors. That night a forest concert draws the girls and the hotel’s animal guests to their balconies to join in: “La-la-la, La-la-la. What a wonderful night in the forest!” Despite heavy doses of cute, the episode is saved from utter sappiness by the inclusive spirit of the forest stops and the delightfully unforced way that the girls offer greetings to a pair of honeybees at a tiny adjacent table in the cafe, show no anxiety at the spider dangling above their napping place, and generally accept their harmonious sylvan world as a safe and friendly place. Doi creates her illustrations with colored pencil, pastel, and crayon, crafting them to look like mid-20th-century lithographs.

A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-199-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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