ARGUS

A class science project raising baby chicks becomes a memorable lesson in tolerance when one “chick” is decidedly different from the others. As Mrs. Henshaw distributes small, buff-colored chicken eggs, Sally notices that her large green egg with yellow spots “looks different.” After her egg hatches into a scaly green critter with big yellow eyes, Sally’s classmates respond with “Ewww.” Calmly, Mrs. Henshaw replies: “Some chicks just, uh, look different.” Sally names her “chick” Argus and finds him a handful, especially when he tries to eat the other chicks as well as her classmates. She wishes she had a cute fluffy chick until Argus disappears and she misses him—a lot. Precise, detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations portray Argus as a wild and wily but endearing green dragon whose very presence in the classroom adds a surprising, hilarious dimension to the text, stretching the concept of “different” to the limit. Kudos to unflappable Mrs. Henshaw, Knudsen and Wesson. With his expressive ears, wings and tail, naughty Argus will capture attention and hearts. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3790-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed.

YOU DON'T WANT A DRAGON!

If you thought having a unicorn as a pet was hard, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried owning a dragon.

The young protagonist of You Don’t Want a Unicorn! (2017) is back, and they clearly haven’t learned their lesson. Now they’ve wished for a pet dragon. As the intrusive narrator is quick to point out, everything about it seems fun at the beginning. However, it’s not long before the doglike dragon starts chasing squirrels, drooling, pooping (ever wondered where charcoal comes from?), scooting its butt across the floor (leaving fire and flames behind), and more. By now, the dragon has grown too huge to keep, so the child (who appears white and also to live alone) wishes it away and settles for a cute little hamster instead. A perfect pet…until it finds a stray magical cupcake. Simple cartoon art and a surfeit of jokes about defecation suggest this book will find an appreciative audience. The dragon/dog equivalences are cute on an initial read, but they may not be strong enough to convince anyone to return. Moreover, a surprising amount of the plot hinges on having read the previous book in this series (it’s the only way readers will know that cupcakes are unicorn poop).

Feels like a retread—it may be time to put this series to bed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53580-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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For those on a quest for a different take on a holiday tail—oops!—tale.

THE EIGHT KNIGHTS OF HANUKKAH

A mix of medieval derring-do and Hanukkah preparation and celebration.

A map of a castle and its environs opens the tale. The eight knights, diverse in gender and race, are siblings, the children of Lady Sadie. She sends them forth on great steeds to foil the “dastardly dragon named Dreadful,” which is wreaking havoc with the realm’s Hanukkah celebrations. Their weapons are “awesome kindness and stupendous bravery.” Sir Alex carves a replacement for a charred dreidel. Sir Gabriel helps prepare latkes. Sir Margaret assists with making applesauce. Others perform the “mitzvah of bringing chicken soup to the hungry,” fry doughnuts, and clean the castle. The last two—Sir Isabella and Sir Rugelach—prepare to do battle with the dragon until they discover that it is just a “baby dragon” named Rosie. And so their Round Table is filled with tasty treats and a menorah while guests and brave deed-doers fill the seats. And readers will not be surprised to see who lights the candles. The narrative is laced with medievalesque wordage as in “Hark! Methinks” and “Worryeth not.” Colorful cartoon illustrations portray happy encounters between the knights and the ordinary folk, interspersed with hints to the dragon’s whereabouts.

For those on a quest for a different take on a holiday tail—oops!—tale. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3958-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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