CLEOPATRA BONES AND THE GOLDEN CHIMPANZEE

From the Fast and Furry Racers series

This title about the Fast and Furry Racers sends anthropomorphic dog Cleopatra Bones and other animal characters racing off to find the fabled Golden Chimpanzee.

While busy, cartoon art and labored, rhyming text signal this to be a cute adventure story, readers may balk at various details. For starters, is the canine protagonist’s name an intentional or unintentional play on the name of the 1973 blaxploitation film Cleopatra Jones, starring Tamara Dobson in the title role? Either scenario seems downright odd, at best. So named, Cleopatra finds a treasure map in a temple, and although nowhere does the text name what sort of temple it is, there are symbols that seem to emulate Egyptian hieroglyphics. She shares the map with other animal characters in a scene at a museum, and they all go off in pursuit of the Golden Chimpanzee. Some may wonder about the underlying ethics of this treasure hunt. In an era of discussion and debate about appropriation, exploitation, and repatriation in the museum field, this lighthearted book runs roughshod over such concerns. The animals’ race brings them to a large stone chimpanzee sculpture hidden in a jungle, which they destroy. “And from the broken body parts pours a waterfall of gold.” The animals divide the gold among themselves; that’s the dubious happily-ever-after conclusion.

A treasure it’s not. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-802-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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