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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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From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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Fun, in an odd sort of way.

The old folk song is given a Hanukkah spin in a parody that blends Jewish tradition with art appreciation.

The kerchiefed grandma swallows a tiny dreidel placed atop her cream-cheesed bagel by the family cat, setting off the familiar chain of events. She swallows the oil, the latkes, 10 barrels of applesauce, a 20-ton brisket, a “mine full of gelt, before it could melt,” the menorah and candles until she is finally full. A large burp makes her feel better. The silliness, cadence and rhythm of the verse all work with the original tune; it can be a tongue twister at times but will keep kids engaged. “I know an old lady who swallowed a menorah— / A mountainous menorah, while we danced the hora.” Acrylic-based drawings using charcoal, pen and pencil place this bubbe in various scenes taken from classical paintings, providing an educational twist. She appears in comical versions of Munch’s The Scream and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. The applesauce in a red-and-white can spoofs Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans, and the menorah is set against the background of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Adults will see the humor but might wonder about the artist’s point in his note stating that “a new look at famous works of art seemed like the perfect way to help people of all backgrounds enjoy this fresh take on an ancient holiday.”

Fun, in an odd sort of way. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-439-91530-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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