Entertaining and visually appealing but not particularly original.

THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

THE FULL STORY

A retelling of the famous Norwegian fairy tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

The “famous” Brothers Gruff are Big Billy Goat, Middle Billy Goat, and Little Billy Goat. They are famous, the text explains, because of a “loudmouth bully boy” who lives under a mountain bridge, the ugly and fearsome Troll. The Gruff brothers, having eaten all the grass on their side of the mountain, realize that the grass is literally greener on the other side and make their way across the bridge, escaping—or, in the case of Big Billy Goat, head butting—the very hungry Troll. Despite the subtitle promising “The Full Story,” this rendition does not stray far from the original. In fact, some of the only differences between this picture book and the traditionally told fairy tale are the presence of the Gruff brothers’ cousins, to whom they retell the story of how they overcame the troll under the bridge, and the way the text embellishes the familiar showdowns between Gruffs and Troll. The traditional repetition of the “trip-trap” of the goats’ hooves is retained, giving children opportunities to participate, and Tillotson’s bright and cheerful illustrations, which paint Troll as a red, snaggletoothed, horned creature, are certain to be appealing to a young audience. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.8-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Entertaining and visually appealing but not particularly original. (Picture book/folktale. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1573-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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