Skip this feast

READ REVIEW

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING FOOD FIGHT

Pirates descend on the first Thanksgiving, and it’s not a pretty sight.

When Cap’n McNasty and the crew of the Knotty List find themselves with an empty galley, they follow their noses to Plymouth Rock. Invited to the table, they seat themselves and promptly start stuffing a giant sack with the bounty. When their hosts notice, the titular food fight erupts, with pies and pumpkins flying. The pirates beat a retreat with their loot only to discover when they get back to their ship that but one pea remains to be split among them. Young readers will wonder how that happened, as there is no evident hole in the sack; close examination of the pirates’ flight reveals that the mouth of the sack may not be held quite closed, though it’s not at all clear that this is the case in Jaskiel’s rather frantic painting. Impossible physics aside, this title is an eminently skippable one, as there’s hardly any stereotyping opportunity lost. The pirate captain himself has but one eye, one hand, and one leg; the Pilgrims are beneficent, and the Wampanoag guests (barely mentioned in the text) are hawk-nosed and bare-chested. There’s lots of disruption going on, but none of it is to the foundational myth of the first Thanksgiving. Add to this confusing compositions and limping verse, and there’s lots of reasons to leave this one on the shelf.

Skip this feast . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2285-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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