A funny story that encourages readers to be unapologetic about who they actually are

I AM ACTUALLY A PENGUIN

An adventurous girl with a passion for dress-up discovers that she is actually a penguin. Her only problem is that now she has to convince her family.

Sometimes she’s a “pretty princess,” other times an “incredible pirate,” and still other a “terrible witch.” After her latest parcel arrives…now she’s a penguin. “Actually.” Whether she’s in the frozen-foods aisle of the grocery store, on public transportation, or playing soccer with friends, this enthusiastic protagonist consistently declares that she is “actually a penguin.” Much to the dismay of her patient mother, confusion of onlookers, and scorn of her older brother—even at her aunt’s wedding—this feisty penguin remains in character. But just when the protagonist’s family reaches their breaking point, our dedicated penguin decides she’s “actually… / an alligator.” This lighthearted book featuring a family of color packs a heavy dose of humor and is sure to be a storytime favorite. The bright mixed-media illustrations are full of motion and personality, and scenes of the child festooning the living room with toilet-paper snow and sliding down the stairs face first on her belly are sure to elicit chuckles from kids (and sucked teeth from adults). 

A funny story that encourages readers to be unapologetic about who they actually are . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0278-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

THE THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS AND THE GINGERBREAD MAN

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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