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


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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Lots for young readers to see and count.


A little boy has misplaced his pet dragon and must search for him all over the city, counting up from one dragon to 20 lanterns.

Black line pen-and-ink drawings in finely patterned detail depict a vital, lively New York City of the imagination. Colored-pencil images on each double-page spread are reserved for the city-specific items to be counted along the way, and the endpapers depict a loosely interpreted map indicating the sites. Readers first meet the adventurous dragon in all his greenness, as he is, of course, the representative of the number one. As he moves about the city, the unnamed little boy hypothesizes the locations at which he might find his pet. He is quite accurate in his guesses, but the dragon seems to be a master at blending in to the background, mysteriously having lost his color. But there are things to count, like two pink hot dogs in brown buns, three purple buses and four blue sailboats on the river, all the way up to 20 red lanterns in Chinatown, where he finally spots the dragon, “[r]ight where I left him.” If this is an attempt at reminding young readers that the dragon is imaginary, it’s a bit of an anticlimax, and it takes a great deal of the fun out of the previous travels around the city. But the visual appeal overcomes it all.

Lots for young readers to see and count. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6648-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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.


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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