A playful, interactive story that will urge readers to be brave and turn the page.

THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS

The story begins on the front endpapers with the questions “What’s going on?” and “Can someone please turn on the lights?” Black pages then fade to gray in the first pages—evidently the light has been turned on.

The book (who also happens to be the narrator) then thanks readers because, it says, “I’m afraid of the dark.” It then goes on to reveal that it’s scared of most things because it’s “spineless” and has “absolutely no sense of adventure.” The book/narrator admits that it doesn’t like stories (because stories can be “scary”). The following pages are filled with tales that the book is terrified of: the sound of a ghost story, in which the ghosts wail and clank their chains; the sight of a mystery’s “pitch-black pathways and slinky shadows” (though it wonders whodunit); the “FEEL” of a space adventure, with “rumbling rockets and woozy weightlessness” (but the stars are nice); the “SMELL of a “whiffy wolverine or stinky skunk” in a nature story (maybe it could manage a bunny); or even the salty “TASTE” of a pirate story set upon the open seas. Leslie’s witty, fast-paced narrative and Brereton’s digital paintings work well together to create a self-referential narrative that introduces young readers to different literary genres, compositions cleverly including those story elements the book is not scared of, till by the end it seems to have grown a spine—maybe.

A playful, interactive story that will urge readers to be brave and turn the page. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-658-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

THE THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS AND THE GINGERBREAD MAN

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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