Though episodic rather than eventful, it’s sure to entertain young readers transitioning to chapter books

READ REVIEW

AGNES AND CLARABELLE

From the Agnes and Clarabelle series , Vol. 1

Griffin, Sheinmel, and Palacios introduce an earnest, quirky duo in a light series for transitioning readers.

Four short seasonal vignettes—“Spring: Surprise Party,” “Summer: Beach Day,” “Fall: New Sneakers,” and “Winter: Perfect Pizza”—illustrate a year’s time with best friends Agnes Pig and Clarabelle Chicken. The pair is unquestionably charming and unapologetically unconventional. For instance: both friends plan and organize Clarabelle's “surprise” birthday party; instead of shopping for new shoes, Agnes gives Clarabelle the pair she’s wearing, having grown out of them; Agnes’ idea of bad news is going to the beach; and a perfect pizza sports chestnut, popcorn, and white-chocolate-chip toppings. Interspersed through the stories are alternating moments when one is scared, reassuring, or understanding. Agnes squawks, clucks, and shakes her tail feathers with excitement; and to comfort her friend, she squeezes Clarabelle’s hoof—they’re a chicken and pig, after all. Gentle wordplay is beautifully childlike: Clarabelle says, “I want to leave this store of lostness,” after becoming disoriented in a department store. Palacios, Pura Belpré illustration honoree for Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match /Marisol McDonald no combina, by Monica Brown (2011), decorates almost every spread with soft and warm-colored paintings. Agnes often dons a bow, and Clarabelle wears flowers; they are often inexplicably, but sweetly, surrounded by birds. Sequel Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate! publishes simultaneously.

Though episodic rather than eventful, it’s sure to entertain young readers transitioning to chapter books . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-778-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more