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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Out in time for the chilliest season, this offers a solution to winter blues while adding to the growing list of yeti...

THE THING ABOUT YETIS

When the winter gets rough, what is a yeti to do?

Readers follow a nameless yeti accompanied by a stuffed toy yeti in a simple narrative. Yetis love several things about winter: waking up to quiet, snowy mornings, drinking hot chocolate, sliding down hills, building snow castles, frolicking in the snow and pretending to be Godzilla, ice-skating “Yeti style” (belly down). Nevertheless, it isn’t entirely grand for yetis in the winter, for they, too, experience winter blues, when hot-chocolate supplies have been depleted and their cold, wet fur won’t dry. And so they miss the warm summer: playing outdoors for long hours, looking for sea creatures, producing sea-monster beauty contests, building sand castles, and zipping down splashy slides, also yeti-style. They miss the summer nights and listening to the sound of crickets, wishing on shooting stars, and gazing at the hundreds of fireflies. Vogel, in his debut as both author and illustrator, contrasts the white, gray, barren winter spreads with lively green backyards, sunny beach days, and blue summer nights. The yeti’s expressions merit great attention, as do the nod to a yeti-fied version of a Sendak classic and such important scene-setting details as the radiators found in cold-weather homes.

Out in time for the chilliest season, this offers a solution to winter blues while adding to the growing list of yeti protagonists. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4170-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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