Whimsical illustrations cannot mitigate the wandering plot and unimpressive prose.

LITTLE THIEF! CHOTA CHOR!

When Anjali wakes up in the middle of the night, the cold floor makes her wonder if someone has come in the house and left the door open—a thief, perhaps?

While her mother sleeps soundly, Anjali investigates. There is no food missing from the kitchen, but Anjali soon finds that her sparkly skirt, her mother’s silver comb, and a handful of coins are missing. Panicked, Anjali runs into the street screaming, summoning her neighbors and finally waking up her mother. But when she discovers that her river rocks are also missing, Anjali wonders if the thief is a villain or maybe just a lost little girl looking for treasure. When Anjali and her neighbors finally apprehend the thief, it turns out to be someone—or, rather, something—they never would have expected. Eventually, Anjali falls asleep next to her mother, dreaming of befriending the surprise thief. While the book’s illustrations effectively use bold blocks of color to create a fanciful feel, the text leaves much to be desired. The story meanders, often including superfluous details that are either already in the illustrations or read as a rather belabored explanation of the South Asian setting. Several of Anjali’s actions feel age inappropriate, including lighting an oil lamp with no parental supervision, running through her neighborhood alone in the dark, and feeding a wild monkey a banana. These excitements aside, overall, the story is too scattered and the prose too uneven to hold attention. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.4-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 69.4% of actual size.)

Whimsical illustrations cannot mitigate the wandering plot and unimpressive prose. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6813-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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This tasty treat’s bound to have young readers alliterating along.

BETTY’S BURGLED BAKERY

ALLITERATION AND ANIMAL ANTICS SOLVE A SILLY SITUATION

A bandit wipes out Betty’s Bakery! Can the Gumshoe Zoo crack the case?

Detective Antoine is interrupted in midsentence—“Always anticipate an alarm. At…any…”—by a frantic call from a panda named Betty. “A bread bandit burgled my bakery before breakfast.” Antoine assembles his multispecies squad, and they all head to the crime scene in their big purple van. Nichols’ tale progresses through the alphabet in chunks of alliterative narrative. When the squad gets to the bakery, goat Quentin declares, “We’ll find the fully fed, fiendish foe.” As the investigation continues, Quentin buys some snacks, offering “maybe a meager morsel from the mini-market?” Betty is too distraught to eat: “I’m in need of nary a nibble.” Detective Steve, a monkey, finds a solid lead in a half-eaten tart: “If we trace the teeth tracks in this torn tart…/ We can ultimately uncover an unusual underbite.” They do, straight to Betty! She’s not only a sleepwalker, she’s a sleep-eater. Detective Morgan, a white bird, sums it up: “We zipped this zany zigzagging zinger with zeal!” The appendix gives a nice description of alliteration as well as descriptions of five notable leaders of the animal world. The story is a crisp and clever caper, laid out like a comic book in panels. The simple cartoons are rendered in pencil on paper and colored digitally.

This tasty treat’s bound to have young readers alliterating along. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3183-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A lovely, silly mystery.

WHO DID THAT?

A community investigates petty vandalism.

“The ruckus began with a broken seesaw. It was cut in half.” And thus, the game is afoot as the multicultural citizens of an unnamed town discover ever more items destroyed with nary a motive in sight. Hockey sticks, fishing rods, even street signs aren’t safe from the mysterious vandal. Could it be the hairdresser and his scissors? Or knight Melvin and his sword? Or the lumberjack and his axe? The lumberjack provides the first clue, as he tells the boat captain, “Your mast seems to have been gnawed!” Aha! It’s the fluffy beaver, caught just as it’s about to topple a local wind turbine. Little readers will delight in the increasingly absurd mischiefs. The color palette leans on reds, oranges, and browns that color peculiarly shaped people with flat-topped heads and oval bottoms, giving the book a distinctive look. The mystery is sweetly resolved (the beaver doesn’t do any hard time) and holds a convenient lesson about awareness and empathy baked in. The creative team is a Dutch collective.

A lovely, silly mystery. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-924786-38-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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