A splendiferous wowzer.

READ REVIEW

DOUGLAS

In this superb companion tale to Cecil’s Lucy (2016), the worlds of a moviegoing girl, an audacious mouse, and a crafty cat mingle and clash in Bloomville.

It’s a Saturday afternoon. Drawn by the scent of popcorn, Iris Espinosa heads to the cinema, passing by a big cat “with six toes on each paw” and a stoop kid on her walk. Taking her place in “her usual seat” in the front row, the young girl sits enthralled by Robin Hood when a mouse with a popcorn-stuffed stomach approaches the adjacent seat. The mouse snuggles up to Iris—burrowing into Iris’ pocket—and ends up going home with her; she dubs the mouse Douglas in honor of her favorite actor. (Iris does not know that Douglas is, like her, female.) Now Douglas must brave the long journey—relatively speaking—back home to the cinema while eluding the hungry, terrible Six-Toed Cat, a master of patience “after so many years” of mouse-hunting experience. Similar to its beguiling predecessor, this adventure comes together in four acts full of quiet cliffhangers and thrilling mouse heroics. Cecil’s playful language and shifting third-person narration create contexts within contexts; each numbered chapter assumes the viewpoint of a character, major or minor, in ways readers might need rereads to fully appreciate. The artist’s duotone-spun, vintage artwork recalls the quaint splendors of yesteryear, peppered with minor visual gags and worldbuilding details. Primary human characters present white.

A splendiferous wowzer. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3397-4

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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