An updated but optional version of this ubiquitous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

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THE GREAT RACE

A slightly fractured fable works too hard to appeal to an adult audience and leaves children in the dust. 

Nate Tortoise is tired of hearing about the celebrity hare Lever Lapin. He is the talk of the town, the chatter fueled by the hare himself. Even at the tortoise’s favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, he is re-seated to make way for the hopping megastar. Reacting to the ubiquitous barrage, Nate challenges Lever to the inevitable race. The rest is history—repeated. Although this story is always a favorite of young readers, the new twist found here is a bit odd. With obvious disdain for the celebrity phenomenon, O’Malley provides additional meat to the story: The swarm of fans pinning the hare to the wall is the reason Lever loses the race. The text is laced with biting, mature humor. “You’ve got the brains of a four-year-old and I’ll bet he’s glad to be rid of it.” Even the play on words at the book’s end (a headline reads, "BETTER NATE THAN LEVER") is a stretch for young minds, albeit entertaining for adult readers. O'Malley's ink-and-watercolor cartoons echo the adult tone, depicting sneers and jaded expressions on the faces of the principals.

An updated but optional version of this ubiquitous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2158-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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