Not as smooth as many other song-to–picture book titles; harmless but ultimately unsatisfying.

READ REVIEW

WHEN I GROW UP

Minchin’s affecting song from the Tony Award–winning musical Matilda gets the picture book treatment.

“When I grow up, I will be / tall enough to reach / the branches that / I have to reach // to climb the trees you get to climb // when you’re grown-up.” Three grayscale children (one with cropped hair and pale skin, one with long hair in a ponytail and glasses, and one with darker skin and two curly puffs) in shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers journey through increasingly whimsical double-page spreads. Imagining the freedoms of adulthood, the children fantasize about loading grocery carts with “treats” and battling “the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown-up.” The final spread shows the original trio at dusk under a large tree, looking wistfully at the branches: “When I grow up. / When I grow up. / When I grow up.” Spreads in dusty pastels sometimes clash with the children’s bold, primary-colored outfits, but they otherwise create a pleasant calm. The illustrations portray a relatively diverse array of characters, including children who use wheelchairs and children with varying hair textures and (gray) skin tones. Unfortunately, however, without the melody and the context of the musical, the bittersweet poignancy of the song is lost and the lyrics fall flat.

Not as smooth as many other song-to–picture book titles; harmless but ultimately unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23384-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Nevertheless, children will enjoy the whimsical scenes, and adult mavens of children’s literature will appreciate and...

GOODNIGHT SONGS

ILLUSTRATED BY TWELVE AWARD-WINNING PICTURE BOOK ARTISTS

It’s a treasure trove: one dozen previously unpublished lyrical songs illustrated by the likes of Jonathan Bean, Carin Berger and Melissa Sweet.

In an introduction, estate editor Amy Gary explains how she found a trunk in Brown’s sister’s barn filled with unpublished manuscripts with Brown’s handwritten notes along with musical scores of her words. They were written in 1952, the last year of her life, when she was traveling in France for a book tour and under contract to create songs for a new children’s record company. Brown’s intent was to capture the spirit of a child’s world in her songs as she had done with her stories. As the opening to “The Secret Song” demonstrates, the simple rhymes have Brown’s trademark charm: “Who saw the petals / Drop from the rose? / ‘I,’ said the spider. / ‘But nobody knows.’ / Who saw the sunset / Flash on a bird? / ‘I,’ said the fish. / ‘But nobody heard.’ ” Each song is presented on one double-page spread, each illustrated by a different artist (uncredited until an ending recap), in a rather staid book design that does not rise to meet the buoyancy of the lyrics.

Nevertheless, children will enjoy the whimsical scenes, and adult mavens of children’s literature will appreciate and delight in the background of the discovery. (CD) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0446-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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