ALL IN ONE HOUR

A mouse leads a series of pursuers in a merry chase that lasts exactly one hour. At precisely 6:00 a.m., an orange cat spies “the mouse that started it all” enjoying cookie crumbs while its master sleeps. It leaps out the window after the mouse, only to be itself followed by a dog, then the dogcatcher, a bank robber, and a police officer—to be finally thwarted when the whole parade runs afoul of a grocer’s bananas. Crummel (And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, 2001, etc.) employs the tried-and-true rhythms of “The House that Jack Built”; while the rhythm occasionally falters, it does move the story along. The double-paged spreads are framed in a deep blue; the text (preceded by a digital read-out of the time) snakes its way around this border, occasionally moving aside when a picture element breaks the frame. Donohue (Sweet Hearts, 2002, etc.) provides the concept for this offering, according to the title page, and her cut-paper collages offer a bright and cheery setting for the mayhem. While the layering of the papers creates an immediate three-dimensional effect, the figures are arranged against the background with a flat and childlike sense of perspective, making the illustrations as a whole pleasingly in tune with their audience. This flatness of perspective, however, is out of tune with the readouts of the time: the characters simply don’t seem to go very far, despite the generous one-hour allowance. Young children are unlikely to notice this disjuncture, however, and this offering does serve to help them develop a sense of elapsed time; that the story ends at 7:00 with everyone back in place except for a new mouse nibbling the crumbs will give those readers a happy frisson that the romp will begin all over again. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7614-5129-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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An action-packed romp.

EVEN SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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