A positively plucky look at government from a penguin’s perspective.

A king penguin embraces his nomenclature a bit too much.

Percival Penguin sits upon an icy throne, with a cloak, staff, and crown. He is a king penguin, after all. It must be his duty to rule over the others. However, his list of royal decrees is selfish (except “Do not eat yellow snow.” That’s good advice for all), and he greedily gobbles more fish than anyone else. The other penguins soon revolt and banish Percival from the colony. Undeterred, Percival arrogantly declares that he just needs a new kingdom. However, all of the other creatures that he finds—seals, polar bears, walruses, and more—all have one trait in common: They want to eat Percival. (Yes, even the sardines.) That makes being their king rather difficult. Then Percival meets the only species of penguin that could make him reconsider his stance on authority—the emperor penguin. Percival suddenly sees names in a whole new light. Back at home, chaos reigns among the penguins, who all want to be in charge, but they all soon learn to work together for the good of the community. Humorous alliterative asides (“SALUTATIONS! My slippery subjects!”), quick quips (“So if I’m a macaroni penguin, does that make me pasta?”), and heavily anthropomorphized depictions of adorably squat penguins lift the mood of this whimsical tale that also has a sound message about the dangers of wielding power. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A positively plucky look at government from a penguin’s perspective. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780593324417

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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