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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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success.

THE MOUNTAIN WHO WANTED TO LIVE IN A HOUSE

A well-known New Zealand writer for adults offers children a tale about an inanimate object who wants to live like a person.

A mountain walks to town, where it meets Thomas, a white boy who stays behind when all the other people flee, and says: “I only want to live in a house.” Thomas decides that the mountain is too large for any house. There is a folkloric element to the tale, as Thomas tries in three ways to help the mountain get his wish. First he attempts to shrink the mountain with soap and water and then chips away at the stone. Finally, he decides that his father, an artist, will paint the mountain’s picture and put it in a house. He persuades the mountain that it can remain a place where people can enjoy picnicking and skiing and still live in a house with people, a Solomonic solution that may not resonate with the intended audience. The acrylic paintings, mostly in shades of brown and gray, are realistically rendered, except when the mountain comes to life with the craggy, anthropomorphized face of a sculpted idol. There is a surrealist, static feel to some of the paintings, and the language, no doubt aspiring as well to the folkloric, is stilted.

Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-002-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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