KING & KING

Move over, Princess Smartypants: this Dutch import arrives to take top honors in the fairytale-fracturing department. When the pushy queen of a small, unnamed country decides it’s high time for her son, the prince, to settle down and marry a princess so she can retire, he exhibits some reluctance—“I’ve never cared much for princesses”—but she eventually wears him down. There follows a seemingly endless parade of eligible princesses, but the prince is unmoved until Princess Madeleine shows up with her brother, Prince Lee, and, “It was love at first sight. / ‘What a wonderful prince!’ ” The prince and Prince Lee are duly wed, “And everyone lives happily ever after.” The exuberant mixed-media illustrations have a distinctly European flair, employing vivid colors in bold combinations, and the line-and-color human figures have a childlike, almost primitive look. The prince himself looks rather like Mr. Gumpy with a crown; Prince Lee is a dashing chap with a goatee and an earring. Taken all together, the illustrations work wonderfully with the text to make its statement with no apologies whatsoever. After the wedding (at which the queen sheds a sentimental “tear or two”), the newlyweds gaze at each other over their monumental purple-and-pink cake, which, of course, is topped with two tiny princes. On the final, wordless page, the happy couple smooch, the actual meeting of lips chastely fig-leafed by a bright red heart. Indeed a book whose time has come, this is no pusillanimous bibliotherapy; it is, rather, a joyful celebration that at the same time firmly challenges the assumptions established and perpetuated by the entire canon of children’s picture books. Hurrah to newcomers de Haan and Nijland and to the publisher for bringing them to an American audience. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58246-061-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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SEE PIP POINT

From the Adventures of Otto series

In his third beginning reader about Otto the robot, Milgrim (See Otto, 2002, etc.) introduces another new friend for Otto, a little mouse named Pip. The simple plot involves a large balloon that Otto kindly shares with Pip after the mouse has a rather funny pointing attack. (Pip seems to be in that I-point-and-I-want-it phase common with one-year-olds.) The big purple balloon is large enough to carry Pip up and away over the clouds, until Pip runs into Zee the bee. (“Oops, there goes Pip.”) Otto flies a plane up to rescue Pip (“Hurry, Otto, Hurry”), but they crash (and splash) in front of some hippos with another big balloon, and the story ends as it begins, with a droll “See Pip point.” Milgrim again succeeds in the difficult challenge of creating a real, funny story with just a few simple words. His illustrations utilize lots of motion and basic geometric shapes with heavy black outlines, all against pastel backgrounds with text set in an extra-large typeface. Emergent readers will like the humor in little Pip’s pointed requests, and more engaging adventures for Otto and Pip will be welcome additions to the limited selection of funny stories for children just beginning to read. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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