Fun and sweet. A real picnic.

MORTIMER'S PICNIC

Mortimer the rabbit sets out to help a friend in need but soon needs some help himself.

When his best pal, Oggy, falls sick, their picnic plans are dashed, so Mortimer decides to take the nosh he prepared to Oggy’s house and show him some TLC. Armed with his picnic basket, medicine, a get-well-soon card, and a storybook, he sets off along a winding country lane, but trouble awaits. First, it begins to rain, and a strong wind hauls Mortimer away into a river. Then, a crocodile, a wolf, and a troll force him to surrender the yummy items in his picnic basket in exchange for safe passage. But the bullies aren’t satisfied—they want to eat Mortimer too; so, when he flees, they give chase. All hope seems lost until a brilliant deus ex machina finds Mortimer saved just in the nick of time. Ultimately, it is Oggy—who is feeling quite better as the story closes—who ends up taking care of the cold and shivering Mortimer, because “that's what best friends are for!” The text is lively, set in varying font sizes for dramatic effect, with pleasingly familiar European fairy-tale elements. Young readers will be thrilled and surprised to discover the identity of Oggy. Ward’s illustrations, rendered in watercolors with a pencil line, are engaging. All of the characters—even a bumblebee in the background on one page—sport spot-on facial expressions.

Fun and sweet. A real picnic. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4994-8969-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Windmill Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations.

MY GOOD MORNING

A little girl diligently gets ready for her day but leaves lots of messes in her wake.

The unnamed girl has light brown skin and dark brown curls similar to her dad’s, and her mom is white. The characters in the digital illustrations have big, exaggerated eyes. The child narrates the text matter-of-factly in simple rhyming sentences: “Time to go potty. I can do this! / Mommy is there to make sure I don’t miss.” Each double-page spread presents a slightly different, humorous visual interpretation of the situation, and it’s in this juxtaposition that the book shines. The cat’s in the hamper, underwear and socks are on the floor, and the pink toilet paper is trailing all over. The two parents seem a little overwhelmed. As they both try to get the girl into her clothes, one arm escapes, and the dad is really sweating from exertion. She insists on tying her laces and buttoning her coat, and the illustrations show the exuberant but incomplete results. As the girl grabs her backpack, her apple rolls out, and Mommy has to grab it. At school, she hangs her coat up, but somehow it lands on the floor (her scarf is also awry), and observant viewers will notice that her shoelace is still untied. In her diverse classroom, she proudly announces: “But this time Daddy, I won’t cry”—and now readers can believe her: there’s nary a tear in sight.

A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-342-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message.

PRINCESS CHARMING

A young princess struggles to find something she is good at.

Princess Charming finds it hard to be perfect—something, she says, everyone expects of her. She tries cooking, dancing, and singing but admits she’s hopeless at them, although she keeps trying. When glamorous movie star Stella Sparkle—illustrated with brown hair and light brown skin—visits the palace to determine if it is a good filming location for her next movie, the princess, a huge fan, is excited to meet her. But when the princess’s dog jumps on Stella and her earring goes missing, will the movie plan be put in jeopardy? It is at this tenuous juncture that Princess Charming finds out exactly what she is good at—a point that is made with some heavy-handedness. While the story includes many racially diverse secondary characters, the fact that the princess and the rest of the royal family are White suggests a power imbalance that undermines the book’s attempt at racial inclusiveness. Princess Charming’s jocular, self-deprecating narration is cute enough. The digital illustrations are lively and colorful, but they merely mirror the text instead of elevating the storyline. The final twist, a play on an old fairy tale, is pleasingly unexpected and solidifies the story’s message in a nuanced way. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32678-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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