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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When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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