A funny David-versus-Goliath story with a one-word question serving as the slingshot. (Picture book. 3-5)

WHY?

Doctor X-Ray, a megalomaniac with an X-ray blaster and an indestructible battle suit, crashes through the ceiling of the local mall.

Innocent patrons scatter to safety. But one curious child gazes directly at the bully and asks: “Why?” At first, Doctor X-Ray answers with all the menace and swagger of a supervillain. The curious child, armed with only a stuffed bear and clad in a bright red dress, is not satisfied with the answers and continues asking: “Why?” As his pale cheeks flush with emotion, Doctor X-Ray peels back the onion of his interior life, unearthing powerful reasons behind his pursuit of tyranny. This all sounds heavy, but the humorously monotonous questions coupled with free-wheeling illustrations by Keane set a quick pace with comical results. At 60 pages, the book has room to follow this thread back to the diabolical bully’s childhood. Most of the answers go beyond a child’s understanding—parental entertainment between the howl of the monosyllabic chorus. It is the digital artwork, which is reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s, that creates a joyful undercurrent of rebellion with bold and loose brush strokes, patches of color, and expressive faces. The illustrations harken to a previous era save for the thoroughly liberated Asian child speaking truth to power.

A funny David-versus-Goliath story with a one-word question serving as the slingshot. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6863-0

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A decent romp with a few drawbacks.

EVEN SUPERHEROES MAKE MISTAKES

Caped crusaders take responsibility.

Everybody makes mistakes, even superheroes. This picture book uses rhyming couplets and playful, cartoon artwork to illustrate a variety of scenarios in which masked avengers mess up. They trip and fall, they catch “the wrong guys,” they even oversleep. Regardless of their missteps, heroes always get back up and try again, and they certainly do their best to set things right. The author’s sermon on personal responsibility is a bit too long, but little readers will enjoy the variety of superheroics on display. The mix of superhero-specific misdeeds (muffing the alignment of a bridge they are building) with totally unrelated ones (singing off-key) feels totally arbitrary and a little unkind, but for children facing difficulties with their own behavior, this picture book that acknowledges that “perfection is rare” and an apology goes far certainly hits the spot. The illustrations are suitably dynamic and colorful, boasting a range of male and female superheroes of various sizes and colors. Two negatives to the art: A preponderance of identified “bandits” appear to be people of color, and all three female heroes are wasp-waisted, and two wear short shorts and midriff-baring tops while the guys are covered head to toe. These trends really, really need to go.

A decent romp with a few drawbacks. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2703-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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