RETURN

From the Journey series , Vol. 3

A fantastic final leg to a reading journey that altered, expanded, and enriched the landscape of children's literature—and...

This breathless finale to Becker's Journey trilogy (Journey, 2013; Quest, 2014) takes readers back to the intricate interior of an alternate world where crayons wield power.

To escape the loneliness of the house, where father furrows his brow over a drafting table upstairs, a white child with a brown pageboy takes up a red crayon and draws a door. Readers familiar with the series know what twinkles on the other side—a purple-plumed bird, trees hung with bobbing lanterns, a Byzantine castle just beyond. New readers will find themselves startled and exhilarated alongside the father when he discovers the improvised door and steps through. Becker's elaborate watercolor-and-pen illustrations capture the scope and mystery of this other place, where, in a few strokes, crayons conjure marvels. Such ambitious, elaborate pictures demand time, and an insistent, pulsing plot battles with their embedded reverie. A wicked, horned warrior invades the castle, seizing the magic crayons from crowned royals (the first child, a second, and a king). The father and child's mutual adventure unspools silently but with urgency. Readers remember the dad's distraction, which started both this book and the trilogy itself. When cave paintings depict the dad as the hero, casting out the villain, hearts swell and eyes well.

A fantastic final leg to a reading journey that altered, expanded, and enriched the landscape of children's literature—and surely many young people's lives . (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7730-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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

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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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