This anarchic tale will tickle some readers, but it is far from enchanting.

OSCAR THE HUNGRY UNICORN

Oscar the unicorn forcibly eats his way through various fairy tales before finding a welcoming home with a unicorn-loving princess.

In this droll, twisted tale, Oscar, a rotund, cartoon-style unicorn complete with cotton-candy–pink body and majestically sparkly rainbow mane, looks like just another horned charmer. But a second glance at Oscar’s stony, half-lidded eyes shows that he isn’t quite so sweet after all—and isn’t quite so easy to empathize with either. The ever ravenous Oscar has eaten his stable and sets off to find a new home in a fairy-tale land, but wherever he wanders he wreaks havoc. There are entertaining scenes in the deadpan narrative: a young witch hiding in her gingerbread house; lights twinkling inside Oscar’s belly after he eats the decorations of a dragon discotheque; or discombobulated fairies whisking him away from their half-eaten toadstool homes. Still, its subversive humor edges toward mean-spirited. While there’s a certain amount of giggles due to its veering from the conventional sweet-unicorn story, this is essentially a running gag about a terrorizing, farting unicorn illustrated in oversaturated colors. The ending, in which a young princess with pale skin and purple hair on a speedboat rescues Oscar from trolls and makes him her willing pet by feeding him enormous amounts of treats, is anticlimactic.

This anarchic tale will tickle some readers, but it is far from enchanting. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-40835-953-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Treacle drips from every page. Find self-esteem elsewhere.

ISLE OF YOU

The voice of an omniscient narrator, who may or may not be a caregiver, speaks directly to an unhappy child with an invitation to a very special place.

The child follows directions to the beautiful title isle “just across the bay.” Ferried across by a toy elephant in a sailboat, the child is given an enthusiastic welcome by more adorable animals and some other children. The little one swims in a waterfall, rides a giant eagle, relaxes in a hammock, and happily engages with some of the other children. Several of the activities are stereotypically girl-associated, and the other children appear to be girls with varying skin tones and hair textures; the little protagonist has light skin and a brown pageboy and is only suggested as female. After elaborate entertainments and a sweet feast, the child is assured that “someone loves you very, very, very much” before being borne safely home. Deep purple, bright pastel pink, and yellow watercolors dominate the color palette, creating a magical, otherworldly atmosphere. But it is also somewhat creepy as well. The Isle of You exists only for the protagonist’s happiness, even the other children there, who appear to have no existence in the real world. Apparently intended to build self-esteem and comfort, it seems to encourage self-centeredness instead, as does the ending play on the pronunciation of the title words.

Treacle drips from every page. Find self-esteem elsewhere. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9116-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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