There’s a sly edginess to characters who’ll do anything to be eaten, but this particular pickled sourpuss loses his tang as...

THE GREAT LOLLIPOP CAPER

As some ingredients have more flavor before cooking, this edible protagonist has more flavor before he learns his lesson.

The punny title’s “caper” is a brined flower bud, the kind that lands on plates for eating—well, eating by some people. “[A] caper is a tiny pickled sourpuss, who lives in a jar in your fridge and is never eaten by children.” Adults effuse, “Ciao, Mr. Caper, delicioso!!!” and, “Ya Meester Caper, ve luv you!!!” But the grouchy caper seethes with jealousy of a tall red lollipop who’s desired by children. So Mr. Caper executes a caper—he sneaks into a factory and pours a beaker of green liquid—caper flavoring—into vats of lollipop batter in order to make unwitting children “appreciate my complex flavor.” Worldwide, children lick green lollies, turn green with nausea and start “acting in the most appalling ways.” They upend trash cans, stick out their tongues and bring home bad grades. Moral: Capers can only ever be an acquired taste, and this remorseful one must wait until the kids grow up. Krall’s shiny digital illustrations are cartoony and bold, with some Grinch-like expressions and dramatic composition. One Everykid-likes-lollipops spread could be straight from Disney’s “It’s a Small World.”

There’s a sly edginess to characters who’ll do anything to be eaten, but this particular pickled sourpuss loses his tang as he lowers his expectations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4460-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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An action-packed romp.

EVEN SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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