Since the most natural audience for a grossness contest is typically past picture books, subject and format seem to be a...

WHO'S THE GROSSEST OF THEM ALL?

The latest in the unquenchable who’s-the-most horrible, hideous, revolting, repulsive, disgusting, gross, and vile genre.

Goblin wakes in his cave. “Who’s the nastiest, most horrible creature in the forest?” he asks the mirror. “I am!” Not if his nattiness has anything to say about it: top hat, vest, string tie. He takes a neighborhood stroll and relishes how the witch and the wolf recoil at his nastiness. He thinks. Coming to a bridge he hears a challenge to his boasting. “I, Troll, am the nastiest, most horrible creature in the forest.” The dialogue doesn’t even offer an exclamation mark, but what readers do get is a pair of yellow eyes in the darkness of the span’s shadows: Ben-Day–dot yellow eyes, as in the Sunday funnies, a conspicuous quirk that characterizes all the art. Goblin and Troll ask a couple passers-by who is more grotesque. A wayfarer chooses the troll (because he is “puke-purple”); an old woman chooses the goblin (due to his underarm farts). Along comes a little white girl in a red hood. Pondering the question, she mines her nozzle for a good booger. She carelessly gets some on her chin, then swipes the remainder down her sweater. Thankfully, she does not eat any. Who’s the grossest? Nothing beats a booger.

Since the most natural audience for a grossness contest is typically past picture books, subject and format seem to be a classic mismatch. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51190-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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