In this witty makeover of the Andersen tale, a grasping queen almost corners the diamond market before an opal—and an Opaline—derail her scheme. After forbidding any other engagements in the kingdom until Prince Ralph is hitched, Queen Frieda proceeds to set tests that none of the candidate princesses, despite expertise in areas as diverse as yo-yo tricks and cyberspace-ecology, can pass. Prince Ralph drives off in high dudgeon—or actually, in a car, which breaks down on an isolated road. Enter grease-spattered Opaline von Highbredde, tow-truck driver and crown princess of neighboring Lower Crestalia. It’s love at first sight. Vaës (Puss in Boots, 1992, etc.) places doll-like figures into elegant Edwardian (or thereabouts) settings, and even Opaline, despite her spotted overalls, stands with a dancer’s grace, not a hair out of place. Perched atop 20 mattresses, the princess spends a sleepless night, not because of the pea at the bottom, but because the huge opal she wears around her neck has caught in her long hair and is lodged in the small of her back. Even the Queen blesses the happy couple the next morning—once she finds out about the huge fortune Opaline stands to inherit. There’s a theatrical air to the story and pictures here, which comes as no surprise, as Vaës is a set designer for the New York City Ballet. Winning. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-89633-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Nolen and Nelson offer a smaller, but no less gifted counterpart to Big Jabe (2000) in this new tall tale. Shortly after being born one stormy night, Rose thanks her parents, picks a name, and gathers lightning into a ball—all of which is only a harbinger of feats to come. Decked out in full cowboy gear and oozing self-confidence from every pore, Rose cuts a diminutive, but heroic figure in Nelson’s big, broad Western scenes. Though she carries a twisted iron rod as dark as her skin and ropes clouds with fencing wire, Rose overcomes her greatest challenge—a pair of rampaging twisters—not with strength, but with a lullaby her parents sang. After turning tornadoes into much-needed rain clouds, Rose rides away, “that mighty, mighty song pressing on the bull’s-eye that was set at the center of her heart.” Throughout, she shows a reflective bent that gives her more dimension than most tall-tale heroes: a doff of the Stetson to her and her creators. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216472-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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