Breathtaking in scope, consider this a wordless testament to the power of not just imagination, but art itself; picture...

QUEST

From the Journey series , Vol. 2

On the coattails of Journey (2013), Becker gleefully expands and details his award-winning fantasyland, growing even more ambitious with his storytelling.

When readers last saw the boy and girl protagonists, they were sharing a tandem bike; this adventure opens with the children sheltering from raindrops under a bridge, the bike propped up against the wall. Suddenly, a desperate king bursts through a door set into the base of the bridge. He charges the two young heroes with collecting the six magic crayons that will defeat his realm’s enemy once and for all. Supplied with a map indicating where the crayons are hidden, the kids find each one (the girl stores them in a crayon bandolier), leading to a showdown with the bad guy that ends with a brilliant, rainbow-hued win for the forces of good. Harold-like, the children use the crayons to draw themselves out of scrapes along the way. Broadening his palette, Becker fills his book with myriad colorful details that will reward sharp-eyed fans. At the same time, his ink and watercolors evoke different kinds of architectural wonders (everything from Atlantis to Chichén Itzá). Part Indiana Jones, part Avatar: The Last Airbender, this book proves to be more exciting than its Caldecott Honor predecessor, emphasizing adventure over evocative metaphor.

Breathtaking in scope, consider this a wordless testament to the power of not just imagination, but art itself; picture books rarely feel this epic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6595-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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