Good for sparking discussions about unintended consequences—but discomfiting when read without preparation.

OPEN UP, PLEASE!

From the Minibombo series

In a nearly wordless escapade, glued-on flaps form cage doors, and lifting them frees a series of grateful animal captives.

Such apparent altruism leads to a disturbing outcome in this latest Minibombo import, though. At first glance, glimpses of feet or other portions, plus hints like a carrot or a perch, invite readers to guess who is in each cage. Then, “Thanks,” say the smiling, very simply rendered mouse, rabbit, squirrel, canary, frog, and hedgehog revealed by lifting each successive flap. Children shouldn’t pat themselves on the back too soon, however. The last “cage” is a solid box (with a line of air holes drilled into it), and lifting its flap—disregarding or not noticing the warning on the rear cover—releases a smiling but silent snake who goes on to cheerfully chase and chow down on all the other creatures. “Thanks,” says the snake, getting the last word. Fans of Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon’s Ugly Fish (2006) and like naturalistic fare may chortle, but more tender sensibilities may prefer Eric Carle’s happier Very Greedy Python (1987).

Good for sparking discussions about unintended consequences—but discomfiting when read without preparation. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9037-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Bank on fun with this one—it’ll rope readers in.

JACK GOES WEST

From the Jack Book series , Vol. 4

That bad bunny Jack is back—and he’s gone out West!

Jack and the Lady arrive at the dude ranch for a three-day stay. Slim, the gold-toothed ranch hand, immediately takes a liking to the Lady. He calls her “ma’am” and kisses her hand, which makes Jack mad. That night, a bell sounds the alarm at the bank next to the ranch. The Lady goes to investigate only to find that Slim thwarted the theft but was unable to capture the bandit. A wanted poster reveals the bandit’s long ears and scowling eyes. Could it really be Jack? Barnett and Pizzoli are in apple-pie order in this Western for emerging readers. The laugh-out-loud mystery unfolds over six chapters, breathing humor into genre tropes. With a vocabulary of around 150 words and multiple sentences per page, the text is a bit more complex than earlier series entries. The creators’ successful subversion of moralistic primers will inevitably delight readers (though grown-ups may find the moral ambiguity unsettling). Jack at Bat, which publishes simultaneously, gives Jack a chance to settle the score between rival baseball teams—provided he can follow the rules of the game. The humans in Jack Goes West predominantly present white with the exception of the Law Lady, a woman of color, but those in Jack at Bat are diverse in skin tone. As with the other books in the series, each book ends with drawing instructions.

Bank on fun with this one—it’ll rope readers in. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11388-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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