Clever and funny, though it’s possible that only a niche audience will want repeat readings.

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CHLOE AND THE LION

This meta-picture book offers plenty of sly giggles (and knows it).

On first read, the droll surprises in Barnett and Rex’s project are endearing. “This is me, Mac. I’m the author of this book,” explains a waving man, who next introduces “Adam…. the illustrator” and “Chloe…. the main character.” Conservatively dressed Mac (collared shirt and tie under sweater) and hipster Adam (thick-rimmed glasses, big-cuffed, darkwash jeans) resemble stringless Plasticine marionettes. Chloe is more cartoony, with wide-leg pants, indigo pigtails and huge purple eyes under enormous glasses. Initially, Chloe’s plot is mild—a walk, a merry-go-round. But Adam draws a dragon where Mac’s text specifies a lion, and, after a power struggle, Mac fires Adam. Mac hires a substitute, then makes the (badly-drawn-because-not-drawn-by-Adam) lion swallow Adam. Without Adam, things go badly. Mac needs Chloe’s help. As cool as Chloe is, her arc’s mostly a vehicle for the Mac/Adam conflict and for excellent inter-media interactions such as a flatly drawn lion swallowing a 3-D–looking figure. Nobody explains why Chloe’s plot occurs on a theater stage, nor how new characters appear during a phase when—supposedly—nobody’s illustrating. One terrific scene echoes the old Looney Tunes cartoon about a cartoonist briskly altering Daffy Duck’s costumes and scenery, to Daffy’s great consternation.

Clever and funny, though it’s possible that only a niche audience will want repeat readings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-1334-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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