BUTTON & POPPER

A pixie family struggles to find a new home.

Mother and Father pixie and their 12 children need another place to live: With winter setting in, their apple tree no longer provides adequate shelter. Two of the boys, twins Button and Popper, sneak out early one morning, but all the people they ask about accommodations are aghast at the size of their family and have no idea where they could possibly go. Mistakenly carried home in a basket by an absent-minded professor and placed in his cellar, the adventuresome duo escapes and returns to the market to retrieve the professor’s actual basket, left behind when he picked up the wrong one. They deliver it back to him, whereupon he offers them use of his home until the spring. The family rejoices. Illustrated in saturated shades of yellow, orange, and black with simple geometric shapes and line designs reminiscent of Marimekko textiles, this 1960s reissue from Finland possesses retro charm. The pixies wear pointed hats with bobbles on top. While gender is ambiguous for most of the children, it’s the male characters who tend to demonstrate agency. Skin tone is mostly white but occasionally orange, yellow, or black. Inquisitive readers may wonder where the family lived the previous winter as well as about the scale of the pixies’ world (Button slips an apple into his pocket but later appears to be about the size of the professor’s bottle of juice). However, this simple story is sweet and appealing.

A visual delight. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65201-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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