Picture Book Reviews: Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian & King Alice

Two fabulously fun picture books on the review docket today, courtesy of the lovely folks at Raincoast Books! Enjoy!

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian, written by Jacob Sager Weinstein, illustrated by Vera Brosgol (Be Prepared) is a terrifically clever, punchy story about a very brave, astute librarian who sets out to save the world from a criminal named Doctor Glockenspiel. When Doctor Glockenspiel escapes- via spoon- from the “Depository for the Criminally Naughty” and retreats back to his lair in the Arctic, he pronounces that if he does not receive “one billion, trillion dollars”, then his “army of giant moths will eat the world’s books!!!”. Well. That cannot happen! But when the world’s top secret agents get thwarted in their attempts to stop Doctor Glockenspiel, the monumental task goes to Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian, “who loves books so much that she would risk her life to save them”. Lyric is not only an ace at disguise but is also a super ace in reader’s advisory: at every turn she’s posing as a background lair employee and suggests the absolute perfect- and I mean perfect– book to excite and distract Glockenspiel’s workers. This is a truly joyful, fun read celebrating the power and wonder in a love of reading (and thirst for learning) and the awesomeness of access to books and librarians. With its graphic novel-like layout and panels (Brosgol’s art is, as ever, super), zany moments, funny, punny dialogue and visual gags, Weinstein and Brosgol’s collaboration makes for marvelously fun reading.

 

Caldecott Medal winner Matthew Cordell (for Wolf in Snow) returns with the blisteringly-paced and riotous picture book King Alice. The story begins with a shout of snow day, and we see a young girl, decked in royal regalia, holding a claw grabber, greet her father and proclaim that she is King Alice. Not Queen, but King Alice. As King Alice’s father sees the piles of snow outside and imagines a day full of mess, King Alice decides to make a book about herself and her knights. Alice and her father sit down for breakfast and start working on their book, but… it looks like it might just be a short one as Alice claims chapter one is the end. But no! Alice keeps stopping and starting, returning with IDEAS, sometimes truly confounding her weary father as he best tries to keep up with King Alice’s changing stories and changing directions. King Alice is a busy, bustling story, with a story within a story format courtesy of peeks inside Alice and her father’s book. While the picture book could potentially come across as frantic, the story allows for pauses (i.e. mealtimes for the family!) that give the reader (and Alice’s father) a breath and readers time to wonder what Alice will do next. King Alice is an altogether genuinely funny and cozy family story that very lovingly pokes fun at the often madcap nature of kids, their amazing inventiveness and their ever-changing plans (that sometimes lead to trouble and a time-out!). A great read, rich with Cordell’s simple and fantastic sketch-like style (along the lines of Quentin Blake) that calls back to the author-illustrator’s earlier boisterous reads like the very funny and wonderfully nutty Another Brother.¬†

I received copies of Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian and King Alice courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Both titles have been published and are currently available.

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