Plot holes make this one hard to digest.

Fred absolutely adores almost everything about spaghetti. The only thing he doesn’t like is how long it takes to cook.

Luckily, Fred’s mother is an inventor, and when he asks her to create a machine to cook spaghetti faster, she invents the Spaghetti-Tronic Electro-Spaghetti Zapper, which takes 10 seconds to turn anything into spaghetti. One day, after eating so much spaghetti that he can barely move, Fred forgets to turn off the machine. When he realizes his mistake, he gets sucked into the Zapper and turned into spaghetti himself. The spaghetti seems to give him superpowers, and before long, a crowd is chasing him through the streets, calling him a superhero. At first Fred is frightened, but when disaster strikes, he realizes he can use “pasta power” to save the day. The book’s illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and the clever textual design creates an appropriately comicslike feel. Unfortunately, the plot meanders and is difficult to follow. It is unclear whether or not Fred is actually turned into spaghetti (it just looks like he’s covered in the stuff) or what his superpowers are. Although the ending is humorous and sweet and the mother character is particularly quirky and fun, overall, the disjointed narrative makes the book difficult to follow. Both Fred and his mom have brown skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Plot holes make this one hard to digest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25687-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022



A parent and child introduce a way to make daily separations a bit easier.

At school drop-off, a parent rabbit comforts a sad child and hands the little one a heart-shaped object: “I’m giving you my heart to hold / whenever I’m not there.” The heart is meant to remind the child of the parent’s love, celebrate the things the child does well, calm worries, express joy, and watch over the child through the night. The book fails to spell out just how the heart does anything other than serve as a reminder of parental love, however. For instance, “Wave the heart above your head / to sing a happy song.” What’s the connection there? The heart is always in the child’s possession, even when the little bunny is with the parent, contradicting the opening premise that it’s for when the two are apart. Most troublingly, unlike a kissing hand, the wooden keepsake heart that comes with the book could easily be lost; with the statements that it’s the parent’s heart and that the love in the heart will never end, losing the token could be quite upsetting. The artwork features adorable cartoon anthropomorphic animals of various species, two of which use wheelchairs. The font sometimes fills in the centers of the lowercase g, o, a, and letters with hearts, which may cause difficulties for youngsters reading on their own or for those with dyslexia.

Lackluster. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781680102970

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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