A folktale retelling that’s well-suited to a new generation of young readers.

A Case of Sense

What is the cost of a smell? Debut author Daemicke and veteran artist Bersani (Ocean Counting, 2016, etc.) answer this question by bringing a traditional tale into a present-day setting.

In a modern-looking Chinatown, young Ming is playing with an old-fashioned racing wheel when he smells something delicious. Fantastic aromas are coming from the house of notable curmudgeon Fu Wang, and Ming is suspicious—as well he ought to be. In turns out that Fu Wang’s chefs have created eight delicious dishes, and the chefs announce them to the neighborhood. Later in the day, Fu Wang announces that, as payment for the wonderful smells, he will collect 40 cents from each local family. It doesn’t seem like a large sum, but for the families that live near Fu Wang, it’s enough for them to protest his ridiculous demand and refuse to give him money. Fu Wang presses the issue and takes his neighbors to court. Ming sits in the audience and listens as the wise judge hears out the case. “The smells from Fu Wang’s food were not something we asked for. Why should we pay for them?” one of the neighbors protests. But when the judge asks each neighbor to produce 40 cents each, the neighbors fear they’ve lost the case. The joke, however, is on Fu Wang; the judge has each neighbor jingle their coins to pay for the smell of food with the sound of money. The folktale on which this story is based has versions in Japan, China, Korea, Turkey, and elsewhere, but young American readers will likely see it here for the first time. They’ll laugh at the justice served to Fu Wang and appreciate the wisdom of the judge. Bersani’s illustrations feature a wonderfully diverse cast of men and women of primarily Asian descent, although Fu Wang looks a bit like a stereotypical villain. The text on each page can be lengthy but the vocabulary is appropriate for a mid-elementary-school audience, who will get the most out of the tale; classroom-activity pages about the five senses, as well as a science experiment about diffusion, follow the text. The images also help move the story along at a steady pace.

A folktale retelling that’s well-suited to a new generation of young readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62855-852-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.


Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Sutton’s latest is a truck-lover’s dream come true—repetition, rhyme and onomatopoeia form the text, while construction trucks vie for readers’ attention in the illustrations. The result is a wonderfully noisy look at how roads are built. From a line on a map and an empty field to the finished road complete with lights and signs, youngsters will be able to follow all the steps, learning all the vehicles that take part in the process (a final page introduces readers to each one). “Pack the ground. Pack the ground. / Roll one way, then back. / Make the roadbed good and hard. / Clang! Crunch! Crack!” Lovelock’s debut certainly makes an impression. His pigmented ink illustrations keep the focus on the machines and the individual parts they play in building the road. The level of detail matches the text’s intended audience—enough to satisfy, not so much as to overwhelm. Pave the way to this book’s shelf; perfect for read-alouds, it will be a hit whether shared with a group or one-on-one. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3912-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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