An accessible, brightly colored work that may appeal to young fans of superheroes and kids who need a little encouragement...


An African-American child who loves vegetables uses his superpowers to keep bad-health monsters away in this picture book by author Base and illustrator Hefke (Toni the Superhero, 2018).

Toni is a seemingly ordinary youngster who can transform into a caped-and-masked hero. Using his “Veggie Power,” he combats such villains as Mr. Softy Bones, who can make bones grow soft; Mr. Gross Yucka Boo Boo, who can cause sickness; and Ms. Tummy Slam Pangs, who gives people stomachaches after they eat junk food. Sometimes Toni’s powers appear as rays from his eyes; at other times, they appear to have a martial arts element. Hefke’s two-page spreads of cartoon clouds with limbs flailing and comic-book–style sound effects obscure any depiction of actual violence. In short sentences with repeated keywords (“Toni eats vegetables. Vegetables make him strong”), Base emphasizes eating veggies of different colors, which will give preschool lap-readers the opportunity to identify both the hues and the vegetables portrayed. Although Toni and his friends, a diverse group, don’t speak any lines, their illustrated reactions to bad guys and good foods will give readers instant understanding.

An accessible, brightly colored work that may appeal to young fans of superheroes and kids who need a little encouragement to eat healthier.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72166-632-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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