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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For the youngest of unicorn fanatics; others may want to look for their magic elsewhere.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, UNICORN

A young unicorn frolics with friends and family to the tune and lyric structure of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Predictably, the singable text reads: “Twinkle, Twinkle, unicorn, / sparkle with your magic horn. // Leaping over clouds so high, / like a diamond in the sky.” Each double-page spread shows the titular creature, yellow and with a rainbow mane, tail, and horn, leaping over rainbows, cavorting with bumblebees, and dancing with a pink bunny, among others. As night falls, the unicorn enjoys a story from what are likely parental figures, an older pink unicorn sporting a necklace and a blue unicorn with bow tie (it seems gender stereotypes exist among legendary creatures, too). Waring’s childlike art is a candy-colored explosion, with big-eyed critters, both legendary and real, all with chunky, toddler-esque physiques. While the verse is nothing new (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” has arguably been rewritten more than any other children’s song) and there is little substance, it scans and sings relatively easily. Youngsters will be drawn to the sparkly rainbow on the cover.

For the youngest of unicorn fanatics; others may want to look for their magic elsewhere. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3973-3

Page Count: 7

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Friendship and supportive verbal encouragement help overcome fearful resistance in this pleasant if not especially...

LITTLE IFFY LEARNS TO FLY

Learning to fly is a scary idea for Little Iffy, who is a “bitty griffin…part lion and part eagle.”

Just the thought of being up in the air is terrifying. Little Iffy wonders how he would descend and chooses to safely stay down. Eggs Pegasus, Iffy’s flying-horse friend, hatches several plans on the playground to help him take off. He is encouraged to swing high, go down the slide, or be lifted by his friends and to “flap your wings” each time. But the frightened little griffin politely declines all suggestions. “No, thank you. Down is best.” Searching for the safest spot, Iffy sits on “the down-est place he can find”—the seesaw—only to be thrown straight up in the air when his friends, stacked one on top of each other, tumble onto the raised side. “Whoops!” / “Yikes!” Soaring up, Iffy grabs onto a floating red balloon and begins to descend slowly until a bee’s stinger pops it, sending Iffy down much more rapidly. “FLAP YOUR WINGS, LITTLE IFFY!!!” And just like that, Iffy is flying. It’s hardly an original story, but simple, unencumbered dialogue and easy phrasing carry it along, and little listeners may repeat those heartening words of encouragement. Rounded, digital cartoon art of cuddly mythological creatures (there are also a dragon, faun, and unidentifiable blue figure) in pale hues sustain the central message.

Friendship and supportive verbal encouragement help overcome fearful resistance in this pleasant if not especially remarkable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5039-3986-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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