As silly a trip to grandma’s house as there ever was.

NINJA RED RIDING HOOD

Schwartz and Santat deliver a powerful karate chop of a picture book to fracture the familiar “Little Red Riding Hood” story.

Hot on the heels of their successful Three Ninja Pigs (2012), this tale sees the hungry wolf enrolling in karate class to add some new skills to his predatory ways. Told in verse that adopts the lilting rhythm of a limerick, the humorous text pairs with digital art that bears the mark of Santat’s animation background. The lupine antihero trains and then goes into the woods, where he encounters Little Red Riding Hood. In a familiar turn, he distracts her on her journey to Grandma’s house with a flower-picking errand—but when he races off to the cottage ahead of her, he finds that Grandma is gone. Lo and behold, when the girl arrives, she does not need a woodcutter to save her because she has trained at ninja school, too. Grandma shows up fresh from practicing tai chi just in time to see Red subdue the wolf and then extract a promise that he will become a vegetarian and take up yoga. An unfortunate mishmash of Eastern religions and traditions emerges from this tale, but the absurdity of the story’s twists and turns helps to mitigate this gaffe.

As silly a trip to grandma’s house as there ever was. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-163548

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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