As a story to teach girls that their proper roles are as appearance-conscious, selfless helpmates, it succeeds insidiously.

A ROYAL DISASTER

From the Princess DisGrace series , Vol. 1

In her awkward first year, white Princess Grace faces challenges at Tall Towers Princess Academy.

Grace is the 13th princess in a class that traditionally has 12. Her cousin, blonde Princess Precious, is horrified that clumsy Grace is even allowed to attend. But Grace passes the unicorn test —if a unicorn picks a princess (an eyebrow-raising allusion to the unicorn/virgin myth), the princess stays. With numbing predictability, Grace trips, rips, and bumbles her way through lessons: how to curtsey, how to ride her unicorn sidesaddle, how to care a great deal about external appearances. Grace feels out of place; not because, as readers might hope, she sees how repressive all this is, but because she is not good at it. Racial diversity is included in Scott’s illustrations, although whites dominate in both numbers and leadership positions. Narratively, stereotypes, like a low-grade fever, pervade: diminutive Izumi is talented and hardworking, while Latisha is “sporty.” A proper princess, the girls are taught, is graceful, elegant, courteous, and selfless. The final scene hopes to be empowering but only manages to emphasize gender-role stereotypes as Grace is praised more for helping the (male) knight out of his distress by secretly volunteering in his place than for winning the joust.

As a story to teach girls that their proper roles are as appearance-conscious, selfless helpmates, it succeeds insidiously. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53775-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Haphazard stabs at describing at least parts of the creative process—more illuminating perhaps for the artist’s students...

I HAVE AN IDEA!

A gifted finder of ideas explains how to track the tricky, elusive things down.

Readers should be warned to hold on to their hats, because although it’s presented as one long, breathless mix of hand-lettered expostulations and dashed-off jabs, squiggles, and swipes of blue, red, and yellow paint, Tullet’s monologue veers about like an unknotted balloon. Dispensing with a title page, he opens abruptly by marveling at the “OH!” moment when an idea hits, then rhetorically asking what an idea might be. He goes on to describe hunting for one as an arduous, even “boring” task. Observing that happening upon an idea is “a little like finding a seed” that grows, he suddenly switches his conceit to exclaim that ideas will come in a “messy and bubbly” swarm—but must be sifted to find the “good” ones, which “always” contain “a seed of madness.” Rather than pausing to unpack that vague if fine-sounding phrase, he rushes on to claim (with one minor typo) confusingly that “those seeds” (which ones?) are hidden everywhere but can be found, cultivated, absorbed in the mind, and ultimately combined…to make an idea. (Weren’t we there already?) Finally, following the affirmation that the effort is worthwhile, whether “just for the fun of it” or “to change the world,” he closes with the inspirational assurance that those who seek will find. Well, that part at least is clear enough.

Haphazard stabs at describing at least parts of the creative process—more illuminating perhaps for the artist’s students than the rest of his audience. (Picture book. 8-10, adult)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7858-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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