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Another absurd tale of the omnivorous old woman consuming the inedible.

A very silly fairy tale–inspired riff on the nursery rhyme.

The light-skinned old lady scarfs down a dragon for no discernable reason: “Can you imagine?” The dragon is followed by a tan-skinned princess “to guide the dragon,” a light-skinned knight “to soar with the princess,” a castle “for all to assemble,” a moat “to surround the castle,” a light-skinned mermaid “to float in the moat,” and finally “a book.” That volume proves to be a purgative: The old lady “began to exhale,” and “out came a magical fairy tale.” The one page of the fairy-tale book shown depicts the knight saving the princess from the dragon (the mermaid is just an onlooker) above the final phrase, “Happy reading!” No guiding, soaring, or assembling in sight. The mortal peril of ingesting heaps of the ridiculous has disappeared: There’s no more threat that “perhaps she’ll die.” Frequent repetition of imagine to rhyme with dragon might prove trying, but the zany action overcomes the tedium: Lee’s cartoon characters, bug-eyed and bulbous-nosed, slide down the old lady’s maw and float in her belly. Like many of the books in this astoundingly popular and drawn-out series, this one abandons the metrical structure and the logic of the original, and unlike some, it does not add educational tidbits. Still, past performance and the wacky illustrations promise library, classroom, and bedtime thrills. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another absurd tale of the omnivorous old woman consuming the inedible. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1338879117

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying.

A story-reading dragon—what’s not to like?

Duncan the Dragon loves to read. But the stories so excite him, his imagination catches fire—and so do his books, leaving him wondering about the endings. Does the captain save the ship? Do aliens conquer the Earth? Desperate to reach the all-important words “The End” (“like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake”), he tries reading in the refrigerator, in front of a bank of electric fans, and even in a bathtub filled with ice. Nothing works. He decides to ask a friend to read to him, but the raccoon, possum, and bull all refuse. Weeping, Duncan is ready to give up, but one of his draconic tears runs “split-splat into a mouse,” a book-loving mouse! Together they battle sea monsters, dodge icebergs, and discover new lands, giving rise to a fast friendship. Driscoll’s friendly illustrations are pencil sketches painted in Adobe Photoshop; she varies full-bleed paintings with vignettes surrounded by white space, imaginary scenes rendered in monochrome to set them apart. Duncan himself is green, winged, and scaly, but his snout is unthreateningly bovine, and he wears red sneakers with his shoelaces untied—a nicely vulnerable touch. Though there are lots of unusual friendship stories in picture books, the vivid colors, expressive faces, and comic details make this one likely to be a storytime hit.

Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75507-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Adorable but unlikely to hold children’s attention on rereads.

Letters fly back and forth between a child and a unicorn until the two finally meet in person.

The initial double-page spread shows a light-skinned teacher facing a class of children at their easels. “Our art and pen pal units have been combined,” the teacher tells them. “We’ll be mailing pictures and images along with each letter.” On the next page, a unicorn teacher extends the lecture—to a group of chubby young diversely hued unicorns. This teacher advises the students to ask their pen pals questions, to talk about their own lives, to be creative, and to enjoy themselves. Over the course of the school year, we see a light-skinned child called Constance Nace-Ayer (who, as her name suggests, is a little grumpy about the pen pal project, at least initially) exchange handwritten letters and artwork with a more upbeat pink unicorn named Nicole Sharp. There is plenty of wordplay and some sly, subtle indications that the pen pals sometimes misunderstand each other. At the book’s climax, when the pen pals all meet face to face, Constance and Nicole are surprised to learn each other’s respective species. While young readers will appreciate the cutesy illustrations, the pen pals’ decision to remain friends despite their differences falls a bit flat. The story depicts this moment as a huge triumph, but what human—no matter how narrow-minded—would reject an offer of unicorn friendship? (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Adorable but unlikely to hold children’s attention on rereads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593206942

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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