TALE OF THE SHADOW KING

From the Prince & Knight series , Vol. 2

Prince and knight return to take on an evil adversary.

This sequel to Prince & Knight (2018) picks up after the prince and knight’s wedding day and begins with a coronation (but, a little puzzlingly, the prince is never referred to as a king). The two men’s love “inspired everyone in sight,” but soon a “fog of darkness” descends upon the realm. Daylight disappears. The crops suffer blight. The prince gravely tells his husband, “We must face this threat tonight!” The pair consults with the kingdom’s “wise old sage,” who sends them to find the Shadow King, whose “soul is filled with rage.” After “trudging through the wilderness,” the prince and knight make it to the Shadow King’s fortress and best his army of monsters. Eventually, they reach the Shadow King and help repair the harm that resulted from his evil ways. With rich colors and cinematic sequences, Lewis’ animation-inflected art shines in this fantastical tale. Whereas in the first book knight rescued prince, the reverse happens here—a delightful counterpoint to heteronormative gender roles. Though excellent in its positive depiction of queer heroes, the book’s heavy-handed message is made worse by Haack’s awkward, rhyming text. Aside from the brown-skinned knight, the royal family presents White. Supporting characters add additional racial diversity. With the addition of the Shadow King and his squire, the story moves from tokenization toward a sense of queer community. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.3-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56% of actual size.)

Pretty but preachy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1121-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more