A nicely etched story of doing the right thing in a trying world.

NICK AND THE NASTY KNIGHT

Young Nick outfoxes a greedy knight as well as a company of thieves to rescue his oppressed medieval village.

The setting here is an age-worn town, sometime in the Middle Ages, with a Central European feel, venerable but struggling under the boot of a bloated, cruel tyrant. Nick has been forced into servitude at Sir Nestor the Nasty’s castle because his mother is in debt to the knight. Nestor has more than he will ever have need, but that’s the point: Greed breeds greed. All day long, it’s chop wood, fetch water, do the dishes, and then do it again. Nick connives to make his escape and stumbles into the knight’s treasury in the process. He grabs one glowing coin and swings to freedom, only to land in the hands of a band of robbers who are only too happy to have someone to chop their wood, fetch water, and do the dishes. But Nick plays on their greed and soon enough has them swimming in the moat with Nestor’s alligators, right along with Nestor, as he puts the golden coin to good work. On one level, the story is simple fun, as are the illustrations, but scratch it just a little and it has much to say about the universality of greed and how wealth finds meaning when it is put to use for the common good.

A nicely etched story of doing the right thing in a trying world. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4091-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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