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Visually irregular but satisfyingly victorious.

A wolf coaxes a rabbit into a “Little Red Riding Hood” narrative.

Rabbit’s bored, lying vulnerably on its stomach, longing for something to happen. From off the page, a long, distinctly wolf-shaped shadow falls over him. “Excuse me,” says Wolf, its huge head appearing, “May I help?” Wolf, a self-described librarian, suggests writing a story. “Red Riding Hood” details emerge in dialogue (“What big eyes you have!” “All the better for reading with, my dear”) and potential dress-up costumes (Rabbit considers a space suit or a pirate hat; Wolf smiles subtly when a red cape comes up but discourages it). Rabbit wants a story about space rockets and “LOTS of bananas,” but Wolf pushes a fairy tale with a villain who’s not a mouse, not a pink elephant, but “something medium-size”; credulous Rabbit suggests the Wolf act the part. The line between a story they’re writing and a story they’re in is deliciously fluid. Suddenly the chase is on, and only Rabbit’s imagination can thwart the Wolf. Resurrecting a discarded plot, Rabbit takes care of things handily in a way readers will never see coming. O’Byrne uses mixed media on white backgrounds; fancifully colored tree trunks symbolize a forest. Inconsistent drawing quality seems glaring in the difference between Rabbit, portrayed delicately, and Wolf’s face and snout, which have awkward, rudimentary shapes.

Visually irregular but satisfyingly victorious. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8001-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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An action-packed romp.

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom.

A multicultural girl-power manifesto featuring a feisty young girl who faces her day as a knight on an epic quest.

The unnamed narrator puts on her “armor” (a rainbow sweater) and fills her “treasure chest” (a backpack). Venturing forth to “explore new worlds,” she drives back “dragons” (neighborhood dogs on their walk), boards the “many-headed serpent” (her school bus, with schoolmates’ heads protruding from every window), and visits “the Mountain of Knowledge” (the school library) to “solve the mysteries of the unknown.” After standing up for her beliefs—by joining a classmate sitting alone in the cafeteria—the young girl returns home to rest in the lap of an older female relative, possibly a grandparent/primary caregiver, to prepare for the next day, when she can be “fierce again.” Birdsong’s repeated refrain—“I will be fierce!”—underlines the unambiguous message of this sassy picture book, and Chanani’s bold and energetic illustrations reinforce the text’s punchy, feminist-y declarations. They depict a joyously multiracial environment, consciously tackling stereotypes with an elderly, white, female bus driver and a groovy, Asian-presenting librarian with a green streak in her hair. The fierce protagonist herself has brown skin and fluffy, dark brown hair, and her caregiver also has brown skin.

Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29508-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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