This gem’s childlike warmth, whimsy, and wisdom bring to mind The Little Prince.

THE KING AND THE SEA

21 EXTREMELY SHORT STORIES

The titular king, a smallish character made of paper and featuring crayoned features and crown, converses with many creatures and inanimate objects in a series of double-page “chapters,” each title beginning, “The King and….”

Humorous yet elegant collages perfectly complement tiny tales that will sometimes elicit conversation, sometimes a knowing smile or an outright laugh, and occasionally a shrug of incomprehension. There is no violence or even unpleasantness, save one bee sting. Reading the book from beginning to end produces the satisfaction of bonding with the very human king as he engages in learning and in bettering himself. His conversations often begin from the double traits of pride and ignorance, then end with his humble acceptance of an improved interpretation of the world. The least subtle tale is the funny “The King and the Dog,” during which the red-faced king shouts a series of commands—including “Stop! Fetch! Heel!”—to a calm, intransigent pup across the gutter. “I am the king!” is part of the tirade. The final sentence: “Then he ran off after the dog.” The youngest readers will love the king’s blissful, sleeping countenance after his losing battle against sleep. Occasionally the king finds his own capability, as when he lights a candle to solve an impasse with the night.

This gem’s childlike warmth, whimsy, and wisdom bring to mind The Little Prince. (Picture book. 7 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-8775-7994-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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