PRINCESS HYACINTH

(THE SURPRISING TALE OF A GIRL WHO FLOATED)

No shrinking violet (nor Treehorn), Princess Hyacinth yearns to play outside—but she’ll float away! There’s no particular reason, but indoors she wafts upwards until the ceiling blocks her, and outdoors, the sky’s the limit. A wonderfully expressive illustration of Hyacinth dragging through the castle halls in her gravity-ensuring extra-heavy crown shows her pouting mouth (no eyes—they’re buried under the crown) and her huge, downtrodden shadow on the wall. Smith’s elegantly cartoonish brush-and-ink character survives an exhilarating scare involving a kite, a rescue and a newly formed friendship. Heide’s prose takes off just when Hyacinth does: “She whirled and she twirled, she swooshed and she swirled….” When Hyacinth soars free in a vast pink sky, her figure is tiny and three balloons follow behind, creating a scene of breezy adventure that also feels delicate. Oil-paint backgrounds (shafts of light; antique-hued balloons; soft animal topiary) glow behind the pointy-nosed, active characters. Molly Leach’s clever design shows the word “up” repeatedly rising, and one sentence levitates partially off the page—naturally. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-84501-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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