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. 14, 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 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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From the Duck and Hippo series , Vol. 3

Hippo dreams of “a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving.”

It’s not all smooth sailing. Hippo is raking and dreaming of Thanksgiving goodies when Duck plunges into Hippo’s leaf pile and musses it up. When a falling apple bonks Hippo on the head and he then gives it to Duck, Duck thanks him, triggering an invitation to celebrate the day together. The two friends go off to shop and find themselves in mishap after mild mishap, meeting friends and inviting them one by one to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Duck engages in mild tomfoolery, but Hippo maintains his genial calm. That evening, Duck goes back to their friends and suggests that they plan a surprise for Hippo. The next day, Hippo prepares a delicious assortment of traditional (all vegetarian) dishes and then waits for his friends—who show up late with their surprise: more food (eggrolls, sushi, pizza, and peanut-butter–and-jelly tacos), which temporarily puts Hippo out because it “is NOT a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast!” Hippo rapidly gets over himself, and the friends all have a good time. While the message of enjoying fellowship and valuing each individual’s contributions is a worthy one, this meandering tale offers little to chew on in terms of character development or plot. Joyner’s anthropomorphic cartoon animals are cheery, but his illustrations do nothing to give London’s story any depth.

Empty calories . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0080-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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