A sweet sisterhood seaside story.

JULES VS. THE OCEAN

Little Jules is determined to impress her big sister with an amazing sand castle…

…but the Ocean has other plans! Sima’s story hinges on Jules’ adoration of her big sister (unnamed and with slightly darker brown skin than Jules’ and their mom’s). When Mom brings them to the beach, Jules immediately starts building while her sister goes off with a boogie board. Jules toils away, and as the tide rolls in, the Ocean demolishes her creation. While Jules takes the Ocean’s destruction personally, her sister says, “this happens to everyone” before heading back out to the waves. Jules is discouraged as she sees other kids’ impressive, still-standing sand castles, but she persists only to be thwarted again by the Ocean. Her lowest point comes when the tides sweep away her bucket. Big sister comes to the rescue—not to save it but to help build another castle, using only their hands. It’s “definitely the BIGGEST…FANCIEST…MOST EXCELLENT” castle, but then, “Uh-oh.” A massive, spread-spanning CRASH! both obliterates the castle and leaves Jules and her sister exhilarated, and they race back to tell their mom what’s happened. In a twist that feels lifted from a Bob Graham story, “Mom assures them that happens to everyone.” Sima’s big-nosed cartoons are also reminiscent of Graham’s, in both the character-developing details (Jules’ ears stick out through her bobbed haircut endearingly) and their obvious affection for one another.

A sweet sisterhood seaside story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4168-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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