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

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. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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