Not a good knight book—but not a bad one either.

HOW TO BECOME A KNIGHT (IN TEN EASY LESSONS)

A comical guide to knighthood.

Sam wants to be a knight, so he seeks advice from Sir Simpleton—an apt name indeed. Sir Simpleton says he is a “professional dragon tamer, sword fighter, world explorer, and—this week—knight trainer!” Sir Simpleton proceeds to offer activity-appropriate advice through dialogue (“Get a bright, shiny suit of armor!”), which is then contradicted by his actions in the illustrations. This technique of humorous counterpoint between art and text is apparent in each spread as Sam is told to get the aforementioned armor while Sir Simpleton dons a feathery chicken suit of sorts, to get a “big, fast horse” while Sir Simpleton sits atop a small donkey, and so on. Sam follows the spoken advice and repeatedly challenges his mentor’s silly actions, inviting readers to align themselves with him in their superior knowledge. While this might provoke laughter, the book falls flat without much storytelling to hold it together, as Sam and Sir Simpleton both achieve knighthood by the book’s end but otherwise remain unchanged throughout the text. Sam is depicted as a young child of color and Sir Simpleton as a hulking, white behemoth.

Not a good knight book—but not a bad one either. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2330-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them.

TRAP THE MONSTER!

Children turn the tables on an impressive array of not-too-scary monsters in this interactive celebration of toddler empowerment imported from France.

Young readers show a big bad wolf, a toothy sea serpent, a furry four-eyed monster, a vampire, and a growling ogre who’s boss in this clever board book. Each four-page encounter begins, on verso, with the question, “If you are afraid of this [wolf/monster/etc.]…”; this is followed by the instruction to “…turn the page…” on recto. On the page to be turned is a die-cut pattern. Four rectangular cutouts that serve as tree trunks on recto prove to be the bars of a jail cell in which the wolf from the previous spread is imprisoned on verso, for example. The facing page exclaims, “You sent it to jail! Now lock the door with the key.” Similarly, an enormous “sea dragon” menaces a boat with a die-cut sail in one scene, but after a turn of the page, the dragon’s startled head peers out from under the lid of a simmering pot on a stovetop. “Good job! You put it in a pot! Now you can cook it with potatoes!” Cartoonishly rendered characters with big eyes, outsized jaws and teeth, and lots of personality provide the perfect blend of ferocity and silliness. Bright colors and the clever cutout gimmicks add visual appeal.

A comforting lesson for kids that the things that we fear are only as large or small as we make them. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72820-945-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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