Fee fi fo fum / A merry old tale that’s No. 1! (Picture book. 4-7)

THE GIANT OF JUM

An oversized gourmand with a penchant for little children has a change of heart (and stomach).

Who could blame the Giant of Jum for eyeing his daily fare of broccoli with more than a modicum of distaste? Inspired by “Jack and the Beanstalk” (and conveniently forgetting the ending), the giant sets out to fill his tum with tots. Yet each time he encounters potential prey, they end up getting him to help them fetch their ball, save their cat from a tree, and so on. When he finally meets a boy named Jack, his proclamation that he intends to devour the lad is met with skepticism on the part of the other kids. They hand over a massive cake they’ve special ordered for him in thanks, and the giant comes away with the undeniable realization that “Chocolate’s much better than children!” The cadence of the lines dances on the pages, perfectly playing off the old “Fee Fi Fo Fum” rhymes with eloquence and aplomb. Fully embracing the spirit of the enterprise, Davies has a great deal of fun with the images, filling their corners with animals hiding not-so-cleverly from the perpetually hungry ogre. The giant himself never crosses over into the truly scary; he is depicted as a gargantuan white man with a house for a hat. The children are a multiracial crew.

Fee fi fo fum / A merry old tale that’s No. 1! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-515-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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