Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CAKE

From the Not an Alphabet Book series

Bear frantically and very dramatically searches for a thief who has stolen the delicious chocolate cake.

Bear is distraught that the cake, which was supposed to appear on Page 5 of his simple alphabet book, has disappeared. Bear pleads directly with readers for help in finding the thief somewhere within the book. The furry protagonist then questions suspects, barreling through the alphabet letter by letter. Even inanimate objects draw suspicion, for it’s possible that the helicopter or the kite might have helped the culprit escape. Bear continues to blame everyone and everything he encounters, but most have strong alibis and witnesses. Finally he fingers Pig as his prime suspect, punishing him severely. But Octopus, Robot, and Walrus are skeptical and have noticed some anomalies. Sharp-eyed young readers will take note as well, for there are clues in plain sight from which Bear tries to divert attention. There’s the empty plate on his own page, dark stains around his mouth, and several pauses for ice cream and yogurt. When confronted, he denies knowledge or tries to silence his accusers. But he is truly caught. However, his punishment actually delights him, for he must bake a new cake. Boutavant’s bright, large-scale illustrations are filled with delightful details, and Bear’s overwrought reactions are positively loony. This is a perfect vehicle for reading aloud or reading together over and over, with lots of opportunities for highly expressive emoting and giggles galore.

Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1267-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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