Luminescent illustrations dazzle, but this purported nonfiction study of mermaids confounds.

ALL ABOUT MERMAIDS

Are mermaids real?

For thousands of years, stories of women and men with fishlike tales have been told, but this text employs the conceit that they really exist. The thinking that dugongs or the now-extinct Steller’s sea cows were mistaken for mermaids is quickly pooh-poohed. The author treats mermaids like other marine animals, discussing their habitats, their eating habits, and other aspects of their daily lives. Delicate, entrancing illustrations in an immersive, large trim display conventionally attractive shell bra–clad mermaids with diverse skin tones and hair colors, but they also show mermaids at various ages, from babies to older sea creatures, including some with different body types rarely depicted. The lone merman has pale skin, dark scraggly hair, a beard, and pointy barnacles on his shoulders. While people have always enjoyed myths and legends about these marvelous sea creatures, what’s the place of this book that is presented as natural history? There is no doubt that many readers will pore over the pictures, but is the young audience prepared to understand the joke? The last page shows a young human with brown skin and dark hair lying on a beach next to a mermaid with white skin, with text that reads: “If you go down to the water and wait, sooner or later you’ll see one.” Is the author playing at a tongue-in-cheek game of pretend or seeding disappointment? It all depends on the gullibility of the reader.

Luminescent illustrations dazzle, but this purported nonfiction study of mermaids confounds. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30715-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary...

MARY POPPINS

Refined, spit-spot–tidy illustrations infuse a spare adaptation of the 1934 classic with proper senses of decorum and wonder.

Novesky leaves out much—the Bird Woman, Adm. Boom, that ethnically problematic world tour, even Mr. and Mrs. Banks—but there’s still plenty going on. Mary Poppins introduces Jane and Michael (their twin younger sibs are mentioned but seem to be left at home throughout) to the Match-Man and the buoyant Mr. Wigg, lets them watch Mrs. Corry and her daughters climb tall ladders to spangle the night sky with gilt stars, and takes them to meet the zoo animals (“Bird and beast, star and stone—we are all one,” says the philosophical bear). At last, when the wind changes, she leaves them with an “Au revoir!” (“Which means, Dear Reader, ‘to meet again.’ ”) Slender and correct, though with dangling forelocks that echo and suggest the sweeping curls of wind that bring her in and carry her away, Mary Poppins takes the role of impresario in Godbout’s theatrically composed scenes, bearing an enigmatic smile throughout but sharing with Jane and Michael (and even the parrot-headed umbrella) an expression of wide-eyed, alert interest as she shepherds them from one marvelous encounter to the next. The Corrys have brown skin; the rest of the cast presents white.

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which opens in December 2018. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91677-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Zip to get this Zapped Jack book.

JACK GETS ZAPPED!

From the Jack Book series , Vol. 8

A rad addition to Barnett and Pizzoli’s early readers about Jack the rabbit, the Lady, and Rex the dog.

One rainy day, the Lady (who presents White) and Rex settle in for a nice day of reading. Jack doesn’t join them in this cozy activity, as he’s too busy enjoying his video game, “Rad Kid.” Then in a fantastic twist, lightning strikes, and, as the title foreshadows, Jack gets zapped into the game. An unlikely hero emerges as the Lady picks up the game controls and plays the game to save Zapped Jack, who, after some in-game fun, is defeated by the Boss. Pizzoli cleverly alters his illustrations for the scenes of the game within the book to make them appear pixelated, and Barnett’s funny, controlled text makes the story accessible to emergent readers. The text describing the Lady’s acquisition of gaming skills is particularly chuckleworthy: “You got this! Now go! Hop over that pit! Press A and RIGHT! / Oh. You fell in. // That’s OK! You get three lives. So you have two lives left! Just stomp on this bad guy and— / You died again.” Gaming isn’t vilified in this story, nor is reading elevated as the better activity, which makes it all the more likely that readers who prefer gaming over reading will actually enjoy this title. The backmatter gives directions for drawing Zapped Jack, and readers may well wish there were an accompanying game, too. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-13-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

Zip to get this Zapped Jack book. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11401-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more