It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender.



While he has no difficulty overcoming much larger and fiercer opponents in the boxing ring, the eponymous hero of this quirky collaboration may nonetheless struggle to find an appreciative audience.

Lalouche is a postman in late-19th-century Paris. Slight but strong, he enjoys his work, adores his pet finch, Geneviève, and appreciates his small apartment, even if it doesn’t have a view. Naturally, he is devastated when his superior informs him that he’s being replaced. Determined to find work, he responds to an advertisement for sparring partners, and the rest is history (though there’s a bit of mockery to endure before he triumphs). Luckily enough, the postal service’s new “fleet of electric autocars” don’t work out as expected, so by the happy ending, Lalouche is back to pounding the pavement and chatting with old friends on his regular route. Olshan’s understated text flows smoothly, with occasional French phrases that emphasize the continental charm of his offbeat narrative. Blackall’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations, meanwhile, combine exaggerated size differences and unusual angles with a collagelike style to create a gently humorous, old-fashioned, scrapbook feel. Illustrations of Lalouche’s opponents are particularly amusing, including those that decorate the endpapers. Blackall’s personal collection of pictures of old-time boxers apparently inspired Olshan’s narrative; though thoroughly accomplished, it nonetheless has a very adult feel.

It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86225-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.


This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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