THE TWIN PRINCES

Replete with poultry-related double entendres and (in the pictures, at least) popeyed, rubber-legged steeds, this tale of sibling rivalry offers plenty of chuckles—even if the climactic twist is too contrived to be credible. Injured during a hunt and unsure which of his twin sons was born first, King Chanticleer announces a race, with his crown to go to the one whose horse finishes last. This odd provision really ruffles the feathers of aggressive Fowler, who’s used to having his way over the kinder, gentler Henry and has already poisoned his brother’s horse in expectation of a more conventional race. Arnold repeatedly warns that there’s a “riddle” (more of a poser, really) coming up, and even tucks in an old peddler woman to provide additional hints. As it happens, both princes end up standing before the finish line, waiting for the other to go ahead. How to solve the dilemma? Read and see. Presented as a tale being told to Henry’s royal chicks by their nanny, it won’t outpace “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and other versions of the folktale, but readers won’t have any trouble staying the course. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2696-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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NIGHT OF THE VEGGIE MONSTER

McClements takes a distinctly parental point of view in portraying a young veggie-hater’s nightly dinner-table performance. “Time for another fun-filled hour,” observes Dad grimly, setting down a plate holding three seemingly boulder-sized peas in front of the hyper-dramatic lad who narrates. One touch of pea to tongue is all it takes to elicit writhing fingers (“Ahh . . . I knew it would start with the fingers”), curling toes (“That’s a new one!”) and twitches that are violent enough to knock over the chair as the child is transformed into . . . “a veggie monster!” Peas choked down at last, the crisis ends—but, of course, there’s always tomorrow’s broccoli. Created with a mix of clipped photo-bits of food and utensils and figures cut from brown paper, the illustrations have a simple look that goes with the pared-down text, the perspectives and dramatic effect reminiscent of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books, but it doesn’t really capture the drama like Lauren Child’s I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (2000). Still, it may help similarly picky children, and their caregivers, get over taking themselves too seriously. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59990-061-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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