Vivid colors, a multiracial cast, and seamless alliteration make this book a wonderful read—not once, not twice, but again...

SUMMER SUPPER

This charming farm-to-table picture book hits all the right spots for the younger set.

Words and pictures share center stage. The book follows the farm cycle step by step, from seed-sowing and nurturing in the spring, through harvest and market in summer, and finally to a meal shared with friends and family. Graced with abundant water and sunlight, “seed” becomes “sprout,” then “shoot,” then “stalk.” When harvest time comes around, the bounty is “snipped” and is bound for the farmers market. At the market, farmers “sell,” and shoppers “sample” before choosing what to buy. At home in the kitchen, vegetables are prepped, cooked, and seasoned. Soon, everyone sits down to a lovely picnic dinner of corn, succotash, salad, and more! Using only words starting with the letter “S” for both the clipped primary text and sound effects and labels that grace the illustrations (“Sprinkle spice. / Stir salad”; “Shake Shake”). Pfeffer has ensured his story is a playful read as well as the perfect introduction to where our food comes from. Furthermore, the spare prose pairs well with Austin’s bold, graphic illustrations. Austin doesn’t just skillfully incorporate Pfeffer’s text directly into his art; each scene is rendered in delightful detail and features numerous layers of storytelling waiting to be revealed.

Vivid colors, a multiracial cast, and seamless alliteration make this book a wonderful read—not once, not twice, but again and again. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1464-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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