A well-crafted revision sure to spark discussion.


A feminist spin on a biblical event.

The story of Queen Vashti and King Ahasuerus, like most Jewish tales, has many interpretations. In this buoyant, rhyming take, Queen Vashti “played gin rummy all night long / and sang her favorite silly song. / And all Queen Vashti’s friends were there, / in comfy pants and braided hair.” The women are enjoying their relaxation time, but the king, whose “party had stretched on for days,” decides that “Queen Vashti must at once come down, / in her finest dress and royal crown.” A battle of the wills commences, as Vashti refuses to give up the comfort of her red-and-orange patterned pants, and the king (unnamed in the book) insists that she perform for him. Finally the king declares, “Have you forgotten who I am? / Your choice is simple: / dance…or SCRAM!” Vashti and her ladies-in-waiting take the scram option and leave to “conquer the world in their comfy pants!” The colorful cartoon illustrations are expressive, with a lot of background diversity—Vashti herself has brown skin, and one of her friends is in an ancient wheeled chair. Many readers, whether familiar or unfamiliar with the Purim story this is spun from, may enjoy the lighthearted girl power; others who know its origins may bristle at the irreverence displayed toward what is often considered a tale of sexual violence and dire consequences.

A well-crafted revision sure to spark discussion. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68115-563-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.


A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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