A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Illustrates that by following certain rules, trusting your own heart, and keeping hope, you will find your way safely home, and find what you are looking for in life.
Positive Role Models
Puss-in-boots remains calm, kind, and thoughtful as he wends his way. He sets the tone, and shows the reader how to act when faced with the scarier uncertainties of life, in this case within the world of magic and fantasy.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing violent is shown, but danger lurks everywhere. The imp hanging on the door knocker may bite your fingers, creatures cry for you to ease their pain, the trees are gnarled and menacing, you can't trust the younger princess, the ferryman is death incarnate, wolves lurk in the background, and so on.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that older readers will find this book intriguing with all its allusions to stories they have most likely read. Most younger kids may find it confusing since it's more a list of instructions for life than a story with a beginning and end. Younger ones may also find the lurking danger on many pages too scary, though nothing scary actually happens. It has previously been published in a collection of retold fairy tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling called A Wolf at the Door.
Is It Any Good?
Gaiman fans have come to expect the unexpected, slightly quirky twist in his books; paired with the illustrations of Charles Vess, his work becomes all the more imaginative and fantastic. This is not a book for readers looking for a warm and fuzzy fairy tale, but will definitely hit the mark with those who yearn to step into the more magical worlds of giants, ogres, and Brothers Grimm.
The story evolves in the reader's imagination as Puss-in-Boots encounters dangers and moments of choice any reader of fairy tales will recognize. Because he is given a clue as to what he should do, he is able to make his way through all the scary nooks and crannies as the reader breathes a sigh of relief. The approach is quite original, and promises to snag older readers and draw them back to its pages over and over again.
Charles Vess has illustrated several other books by Gaiman, and each time, he brings another level of originality and fantasy to the work. He uses his pen and ink like a magic wand and fills each page with twists, turns, and tiny details that create an eerie kind of spiritual aura perfect for a fairy-tale world full of mystery and looming dangers. Monotone washes enhance the eeiriness. Anyone who appreciates the Arthur Rackhman kind of fairy tale art will find the artistry of this book captivating.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.