A cheerfully chaotic and amusing addition to the genre of metafictional picture books.

READ REVIEW

EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE BOOK

A story (of sorts) gets assembled using an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach.

The unseen narrator assures readers that the book in hand is in fact everybody’s favorite book: “I’ll explain.” There is a hero, a “space ninja cow” (an unfortunate, implied truncation of “cowboy”) named Bob, gendered male despite a prominent udder. And there is a villain: “A robo-dragon pie” (another implied truncation, this time of “pirate”). But just as these two get an epic battle underway, the narrator acknowledges that some readers prefer nonviolent stories. In comes a pink-gowned, brown-skinned girl, Princess Glittersprinkles. It’s clear that the narrator author has already lost control of the story to an imaginary group of opinionated young readers with diverse taste in books. Backgrounds, palettes, and typefaces change from spread to spread as other popular characters and themes are allowed a part to play: a very large hamster, poop-joke comedians, coder/spy kids (one white and three of color), some vocabulary words (including “gallimaufry”), zombies, etc. Silliness abounds as the energy level on each increasingly crowded page ramps up. Almon adopts a good-natured and blithely commercial cartoon illustration style, inserting each new character and idea in a hilariously clashing way. Young listeners may enjoy reflecting on their individual reading tastes and may find new appreciation for the simplicity of a smaller set of story elements.

A cheerfully chaotic and amusing addition to the genre of metafictional picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13276-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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