Victorious—it may even usurp King & King (2001) as the premier queer-friendly fairy tale for this age set.

PRINCE & KNIGHT

From the Prince & Knight series , Vol. 1

A prince of marriageable age looks far and wide for a partner who sings the same tune.

“Handsome and sincere,” the prince accompanies his parents to meet ladies from nearby kingdoms. While the royals are away, a fire-breathing dragon ravages their home kingdom. The prince races home to protect his realm only to find a knight in shining armor battling alongside him. The two work together to defeat the dragon, but in the process, the prince loses his grip and nearly falls to his doom. The visored knight sweeps in to catch the prince, takes off his helmet to reveal his identity, and the two instantly realize their connection. Villagers and royals alike cheer for the two men’s relationship and, soon, wedding. Lewis’ lush colors and dramatic sequencing clearly show her background in animation and lend a timeless, Disney-like quality to the story. The art notably does not shy away from depicting the intimacy between the men, keeping it on par with images of heterosexual relationships that already dominate children’s media. Though the royal family is white, the happy villagers and the prince’s new betrothed add some necessary racial diversity to the mix.

Victorious—it may even usurp King & King (2001) as the premier queer-friendly fairy tale for this age set. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0552-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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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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