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From the Polly Diamond series , Vol. 2

For story lovers and storytellers.

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 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.

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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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