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 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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Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers.

MY MAGICAL UNICORN

From the My Magical Friends series

Unicorns, rainbows, and interactive features come together in this durable board book.

A perky unicorn graces the cover, and the wheel integrated in the cover page can be used to rotate the sparkly, colorful lines on her rainbow mane, tail, and hooves for a pleasant striped effect. “A unicorn skipped out one day, / spreading magic on her way.” The rainbow unicorn wanders through her enchanted land, chasing away the clouds, stopping rain, and fixing torn fairy wings. Text is sparse, just one sentence-cum-couplet on each of the four double-page spreads, offering little substance for toddlers and not fully connecting with the illustrations. Cartoony illustrations are colorful yet simplistic, reminiscent of animated children’s television programming. Wafting clouds of stars represent unicorn magic, with birds, flowers, pale-skinned fairies, butterflies, and other insects scattered throughout. The final double-page spread shows a herd of unicorns of different colors frolicking together. Beyond the wheel on the cover, other interactive mechanisms include smooth pull-out tabs and sturdy sliders, which toddlers may easily enjoy while developing motor skills. The turn-push-pull-slide features of this book are developmentally perfect for the age, and they are the true adventure in this sturdy book. It’s a shame the text and illustrations fail to deliver in terms of edutainment and pale in comparison to the interactive features.

Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3729-9

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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