Despite incongruities, Rubin’s silly story and McCreery’s animation-quality artwork will attract eager fans.

READ REVIEW

EL CHUPACABRAS

The monster with a taste for goats’ blood is at the center of this bilingual tale.

On an isolated ranch, Carla and her dad, Héctor, wake up to an ominous sound. The next day their wide-eyed goats are trembling in a tree—all but one. Carla cycles around their property until she comes upon what looks like a goat pancake. Aside from its head (“¡Blaaaaa!”), the goat is a boneless puddle. “¡EL CHUPACABRAS!” Héctor cries, with the handkerchief-munching cabra draped limply across his arms. A flower peddler offers protective magic dust, but Héctor overdoes it. After a few sneezes, the unhappy goats are taller than the distant town’s church—and they have enormous appetites. The story plays fast and loose with the legend, taking place “a long time ago,” even though the chupacabras reportedly first appeared in Puerto Rico in 1995. Rubin’s fully bilingual text weaves English together with Spanish with no discernable pattern, often switching in the middle of a sentence, which may prove a challenge for some. McCreery’s humorous illustrations (the goats are hilarious) are sometimes at odds with the text. The ranch appears to be in the desert Southwest, but Carla quickly rides her bicycle to a convenient forest. After a goat eats the bell tower, the narrative states there was no “permanent damage.” The chupacabras, described as a “tiny gentleman,” is a visual mix of the Grinch and a simian reptile; Carla and Héctor have brown skin and straight, black hair.

Despite incongruities, Rubin’s silly story and McCreery’s animation-quality artwork will attract eager fans. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-53929-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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