There can never be too many Cinderellas—well, maybe there can, but definitely make room for this one.

THE ORPHAN

A CINDERELLA STORY FROM GREECE

In Greece, it is said that a girl is an orphan when she loses her mother, and that is the only word that names the protagonist in this Cinderella tale.

The cruel stepmother even counts the drops of water the orphan is permitted to drink. The orphan finds poetry and advice in her mother’s voice at her grave, and Mother Nature gives her treasures, including a pair of blue shoes the color of the sea to wear on her tiny feet. When the prince comes to the village church one Sunday, the stepmother and stepsisters dress in all their finery, while the orphan is clothed in Mother Nature’s gifts, with the Evening Star as a wreath on her long black hair. But the orphan must leave as soon as the church service ends. The next week, the prince has honey and wax poured on the church steps, so the orphan leaves a tiny blue shoe stuck there when she runs out. Potter’s watercolors are limpid in color and fervent in line; the sweeping curve of the orphan’s tresses plays as a motif through the images. Text pages are framed in grapevines, and the whole has the feel of folk painting: The Sun, Moon, Dawn and Star are instantly recognizable smiling folk-art figures. Several phrases repeat to keep the rhythm, and it ends, of course, with a wedding and a tantalizing “I was there, I should know.”

There can never be too many Cinderellas—well, maybe there can, but definitely make room for this one. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86691-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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