What to do when you haven’t found any friends at your new school and it’s already (gasp!) October? Second-grader Max Pilner thinks he has the answer in David’s (When Second Graders Attack, p. 565, etc.) latest offering. King’s (Enemy Pie, 2000, etc.) vibrant illustrations—which depict Max and his classmates with oversized heads, skinny necks, and wide-set reptilian eyes—are appropriately offbeat, perfect for portraying Max as he makes his transformation into Captain Crusader for the Halloween costume contest at school. “I have many powers. I fight villains and save animals and people from calamitous disasters,” Max tells his classmates, who are dressed as the standard issue cat, witch, and firefighter. Forget about being a superhero—Max’s confident alter ego renders him a super star, and everyone wants to play with him. He even wins the costume contest. But David’s tightly woven text soon reveals a new thread. Max, flush with success, continues to dress up. “That costume’s dirty,” says one child. “Why can’t you be a beetle?” asks another who’s involved in a game of Giant Bug Attack. The rejection is too much for Max; King’s (Enemy Pie, 2000, etc.) full-bleed illustration shows the boy, in tattered costume, wreaking havoc on the playground. In a vignette, opposite, his teacher phones home. Any reader who has ever felt left out will sympathize with poor Max’s predicament. But it’s his unwavering determination and quick thinking that’s inspiring; with his father’s gentle insistence, Max goes to school sans costume and ends up making friends the old-fashioned way—by just being himself. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-32746-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002


Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015


Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your dreads! Isadora once again plies her hand using colorful, textured collages to depict her fourth fairy tale relocated to Africa. The narrative follows the basic story line: Taken by an evil sorceress at birth, Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tower; Rapunzel and the prince “get married” in the tower and she gets pregnant. The sorceress cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and tricks the prince, who throws himself from the tower and is blinded by thorns. The terse ending states: “The prince led Rapunzel and their twins to his kingdom, where they were received with great joy and lived happily every after.” Facial features, clothing, dreadlocks, vultures and the prince riding a zebra convey a generic African setting, but at times, the mixture of patterns and textures obfuscates the scenes. The textile and grain characteristic of the hewn art lacks the elegant romance of Zelinksy’s Caldecott version. Not a first purchase, but useful in comparing renditions to incorporate a multicultural aspect. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-24772-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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