Older siblings will find much to identify with.

RODZILLA

It’s a dinosaur! It’s a toddler! It’s Rodzilla!

A black-haired, olive-skinned newscaster narrates the story about the “soft, squishy….huge….pudgy.…RODZILLA” that goes on a rampage through the city. Rodzilla is a wide-eyed anthropomorphic dinosaur wearing a shirt emblazoned “Totally Rod.” He wreaks havoc, stomping, drooling, and sending “slime missiles” (globs of green snot) onto people and cars careening about. Then comes a “hurled…attack” after a stomachache: vomit. But Rodzilla carries on, picking up cars and buses as though they were toys, which (as many readers will have guessed by now) they are. Ultimately Rodzilla is revealed as a metaphor for the chaos toddlers can bring to a household, and the “two brave citizens” who step in to save the day are Mommy and Daddy, the latter of whom looks just like the newscaster. On the spread when they’re named, Rodzilla is revealed to be mixed-race baby Rodney, and his brown-skinned mother hoists him joyfully into the air in a room littered with toys and green splatters that evidence the destruction he’s wrought. Santat’s watercolor, pencil, and digital art is cinematic in its play with perspective, and it makes the most of the scenes’ chaos. A closing illustration brings readers to eye level with Rodney as he peers at the newscaster, now clearly a toy, and reaches for it….

Older siblings will find much to identify with. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5779-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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