Not a good knight book—but not a bad one either.

READ REVIEW

HOW TO BECOME A KNIGHT (IN TEN EASY LESSONS)

A comical guide to knighthood.

Sam wants to be a knight, so he seeks advice from Sir Simpleton—an apt name indeed. Sir Simpleton says he is a “professional dragon tamer, sword fighter, world explorer, and—this week—knight trainer!” Sir Simpleton proceeds to offer activity-appropriate advice through dialogue (“Get a bright, shiny suit of armor!”), which is then contradicted by his actions in the illustrations. This technique of humorous counterpoint between art and text is apparent in each spread as Sam is told to get the aforementioned armor while Sir Simpleton dons a feathery chicken suit of sorts, to get a “big, fast horse” while Sir Simpleton sits atop a small donkey, and so on. Sam follows the spoken advice and repeatedly challenges his mentor’s silly actions, inviting readers to align themselves with him in their superior knowledge. While this might provoke laughter, the book falls flat without much storytelling to hold it together, as Sam and Sir Simpleton both achieve knighthood by the book’s end but otherwise remain unchanged throughout the text. Sam is depicted as a young child of color and Sir Simpleton as a hulking, white behemoth.

Not a good knight book—but not a bad one either. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2330-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers.

MY MAGICAL UNICORN

From the My Magical Friends series

Unicorns, rainbows, and interactive features come together in this durable board book.

A perky unicorn graces the cover, and the wheel integrated in the cover page can be used to rotate the sparkly, colorful lines on her rainbow mane, tail, and hooves for a pleasant striped effect. “A unicorn skipped out one day, / spreading magic on her way.” The rainbow unicorn wanders through her enchanted land, chasing away the clouds, stopping rain, and fixing torn fairy wings. Text is sparse, just one sentence-cum-couplet on each of the four double-page spreads, offering little substance for toddlers and not fully connecting with the illustrations. Cartoony illustrations are colorful yet simplistic, reminiscent of animated children’s television programming. Wafting clouds of stars represent unicorn magic, with birds, flowers, pale-skinned fairies, butterflies, and other insects scattered throughout. The final double-page spread shows a herd of unicorns of different colors frolicking together. Beyond the wheel on the cover, other interactive mechanisms include smooth pull-out tabs and sturdy sliders, which toddlers may easily enjoy while developing motor skills. The turn-push-pull-slide features of this book are developmentally perfect for the age, and they are the true adventure in this sturdy book. It’s a shame the text and illustrations fail to deliver in terms of edutainment and pale in comparison to the interactive features.

Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3729-9

Page Count: 8

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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