THE GREAT GRAN PLAN

A fractured fairy tale about one of the three little pigs and his brave quest to save Little Red Riding Hood’s granny from being eaten by the wicked old wolf.

The little pig (presumably the third) is living safe and secure in his snug little house when he learns that the wolf is now trying to gobble up Little Red Riding Hood’s poor old grandmother. He springs to action to save her in this lively, rhyming fairy tale mashup, racing through his magical fairy-tale village to collect items to help him on his mission. Vivid, colorful, and humorous illustrations fill every page and will engage both child and adult readers. Readers will have tremendous fun searching out all of the other fairy-tale and nursery-rhyme details hidden throughout the main story, making this an interactive experience as well as a delightful read-aloud. A man with rosy red buttocks walks serenely away from the Emporium of New Clothes dressed only in a crown; Goldilocks and a little bear get into a jolly food fight at the Fairy-Tale Fete. Children will eagerly keep turning the pages to find out what happens next and will learn that maybe granny doesn’t need much saving after all. There is great appeal here for both lovers of fairy tales and silly adventures. Despite the gobbling-up-granny theme, there are no scary images to frighten even the youngest reader. Most of the human characters are white.

Great fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-18603-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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