Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging.

PRINCESS JILL NEVER SITS STILL

From the Somos Ocho series

The energetic adventures of a princess who can’t stay in place.

When the newborn princess Jill is introduced to a joyous, unnamed kingdom, it’s all cheers and happiness. But then the king and queen discover that their child can’t be contained, forever bounding and twirling across throne rooms and kitchens and gardens. It’s amusingly conveyed in two-page spreads on which the tiny Jill’s paths are marked in heavy red crayon over sprightly cartoons. The various experts of the land—witches, warlocks, wise men—make their diagnoses (“Your Highnesses, Princess Jill has a case of I-can’t-keep-my-bottom-still”) and prescribe a series of ineffective treatments. What finally solves the dilemma is the introduction of another royal from a different kingdom, a boy named Pablo who is also perpetually bouncing up to the chandeliers, just like Jill. Unfortunately, the story abruptly ends there, leaving readers without much to hold onto other than the idea that Jill’s acrobatics are acceptable so long as someone else of importance does the same thing. Also worth noting: Jill never actually speaks; she’s only spoken about by other characters concerned about her actions. It’s a muddled message (or lack thereof) in an otherwise quick-moving jaunt. The Spanish-language original suffers the same issues but under a different name: Jill is Sara in that version, which is titled, La princesa Sara no para (literally, “The princess Sara doesn’t stop”). All characters present white.

Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-17123-83-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising...

FLASHLIGHT

A wordless picture book both soothing and gently humorous.

The cover displays the template that will appear throughout: black pages with stylized, silvery, moonlit flora and fauna, except where the flashlight’s glow shows the colors of objects as they appear in full-spectrum light. That triangular beam will reveal such things as a beaver in a pond, bats in the sky, mice munching on apples and a set of colorful Tibetan prayer flags suspended between two woodland trees. Although rendered in gouache, the art resembles a scratch painting, with myriad tiny plants and animals inscribed into the black background, starting with captivating endpapers. On the title page, an androgynous child in a tent lies propped on elbows, reading a book by flashlight. Because there is no text, the sets of double-page spreads that follow initially leave room for interpretation as to whether one child or two are next seen happily perusing the night woods, flashlight in hand. No matter; the important elements are the amazing details in the art, the funny twist at the end and the ability of the author-illustrator to create a dark night world utterly devoid of threat.

Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising moon over the course of one night in the forest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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