For story lovers and storytellers.



From the Polly Diamond series , Vol. 2

Polly and Spell return to shake up the school book fair after series opener Polly Diamond and the Magic Book (2018).

Polly Diamond’s day is going to be spectacular: Today is the school fair, and it’s all about books. The mixed-race girl’s love of books and words has only grown since her magic book, Spell, appeared, and the pair have had several adventures, playing with words and stories as everything that Polly writes in Spell comes true. At school, what starts as one idea to make up for the broken popcorn machine soon becomes a game of punny attractions as a Pop-Open-A-Book-Corn stall, a Title-Tastic-Photo Booth, a Read-A-Coaster, and much more spill from Polly’s imagination to Spell’s pages and out over the fair. The fair is a massive hit, but after a magic carpet ride and turning a friend into a dragon (and her annoying babysitter into a squirrel), Polly realizes she has lost Spell. Alas, retracing her steps is not as simple as vanquishing a puddle monster. This second installment is full to the brim with the fun and tricky flexibility of language, which drives the small tempest of plot. Potential new vocabulary is called out with italics and defined, though clarity is hampered somewhat by the use of italics for emphasis with other words as well. Nevertheless, Toledano’s spot art continues to add another dimension to Polly and Spell’s world, giving less-experienced readers extra context clues and establishing Polly’s dad as white and her mom as a woman of color.

For story lovers and storytellers. (list of books mentioned) (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5233-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A close encounter of the best kind.


Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.


From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel.

Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker. When the queen’s prized emerald pendant goes missing, Lucas and Clara set off to find it. They follow the jewel as it changes hands, interviewing each temporary owner. Their adventure cleverly introduces the series’ world and peoples, taking the children to the fairy island of Primlox, the trolls’ home of Burth, the wizard island of Hobsgrove and finally Mermaid’s Cove. By befriending the mermaids, Lucas and Clara finally recover the jewel. In thanks, the king gives Clara a horse of her own so that she may ride with Lucas on their future adventures. The third-person narration is generally unobtrusive, allowing the characters to take center stage. The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text.

 A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9691-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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