Give this book an F, yes, an F: for fun and funny

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE RED CAT WHO RAN AWAY AND LEARNED HIS ABC'S (THE HARD WAY)

This (mostly) wordless book opens with the titular little red cat running out of his house toward an alligator with open jaws, and a chase begins.

Here and on each page with a distinct, new alphabetical element that follows are printed only the upper- and lowercase initials of the relevant word: “Aa.” A bear follows the alligator, followed by a chicken, then a dragon, and an egg, which issues from the startled chicken upon espying the dragon. Cat, alligator, bear, chicken, and egg (which has tiny, pipestem legs) all put on (sun)glasses to avoid the glare of the dragon’s fire, ice skate across a frozen pond, swing on vines through a jungle, and so on. Befitting the quirky visual narrative, the letters are a surprising mix: L is for a “lost” poster with the cat’s picture on it, R is for a restroom, T is for tired, and W for wave, as the characters bid one another adieu. There’s humor in small details and large, as in the double-page spread in which the characters plummet off a cliff and the text screams: “Nnnnnnnn Oooooooo!” Thank goodness they deploy parachutes in the following spread, which requires readers to turn the book 90 degrees for its full effect. McDonnell’s drawings use simple lines to generate action, and the background is a white expanse that keeps the focus on the colored line figures. A legend in the back identifies the specific words referenced by the letters.

Give this book an F, yes, an F: for fun and funny . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-50246-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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