This advancement of patriarchy is way past its sell-by date.


Anthropomorphic animals hold a presidential vote in this story originally published in France in 2012.

In a land inhabited by big-eyed, anthropomorphic animals, the male lion is always elected president. Every five years he asks, “Who’s voting for me?” and all the animals give him their votes, after which they “have as much cake and strawberry-coconut juice as they [want].” But when a mouse challenges this practice and says there should be more than one candidate, the other animals get on their candidate soapboxes—and some clever political satire follows. After the secret vote is held, each candidate, one per animal group, has received one vote except for the lion, who didn’t vote. (The system represented seems to be quasi-parliamentary—only each group’s representative has a vote—making this a poor primer for U.S. electoral politics.) Chaos ensues as each new president engages in partisan self-interest. Disenchanted, the mouse seeks out the lion to help—which the lion agrees to do by becoming president again. This theme of patriarchy is reinforced by subtle misogynistic messages: The female ostrich is depicted as silly, the female carp as unintelligible, and the lioness as merely a helpmate to the lion. There’s also a not-so-subtle message about initiative: Don’t bother, the story seems to say, since only the lion is wise enough to preside over a diverse population. The colorful, well-rendered illustrations are lively and often amusing in their clever depictions of animals’ expressions and actions.

This advancement of patriarchy is way past its sell-by date. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5543-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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