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From the How To Catch… series

Fairy fodder, nothing more.

A brand-new fairy godmother tests her skills on a group of children determined to catch her.

The latest installment in the popular How To Catch series follows the protagonist as she leaves Fairy Godmother Land as a recent grad who’s nervous about her first job (“I should know how to do this, / but all I feel is stress. / Chosen for these children, / I don’t want to be a hot mess”). As she observes the children she’s been tasked with helping, they spot her and decide to catch her for show and tell. Though they set several traps, including a “selfie with a unicorn” station, she evades capture, leaving behind a snapshot as a gift. Readers never see the fairy godmother’s face until the final page reveals her photo—an effective way to keep kids wondering. While the moral of the story—trying new things is scary but worth it—is an important one, the plot is a bit thin. Sure, the fairy godmother “helps” the children by leaving them with a photo of her, but that feels almost like a happy accident; readers never find out why she was “chosen” for these children. Fans of the series who adore all things magical will enjoy this title, but those seeking an engaging tale should look elsewhere. The fairy godmother presents Black, while the children are racially diverse.

Fairy fodder, nothing more. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781728293004

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying.

A story-reading dragon—what’s not to like?

Duncan the Dragon loves to read. But the stories so excite him, his imagination catches fire—and so do his books, leaving him wondering about the endings. Does the captain save the ship? Do aliens conquer the Earth? Desperate to reach the all-important words “The End” (“like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake”), he tries reading in the refrigerator, in front of a bank of electric fans, and even in a bathtub filled with ice. Nothing works. He decides to ask a friend to read to him, but the raccoon, possum, and bull all refuse. Weeping, Duncan is ready to give up, but one of his draconic tears runs “split-splat into a mouse,” a book-loving mouse! Together they battle sea monsters, dodge icebergs, and discover new lands, giving rise to a fast friendship. Driscoll’s friendly illustrations are pencil sketches painted in Adobe Photoshop; she varies full-bleed paintings with vignettes surrounded by white space, imaginary scenes rendered in monochrome to set them apart. Duncan himself is green, winged, and scaly, but his snout is unthreateningly bovine, and he wears red sneakers with his shoelaces untied—a nicely vulnerable touch. Though there are lots of unusual friendship stories in picture books, the vivid colors, expressive faces, and comic details make this one likely to be a storytime hit.

Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75507-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Adorable but unlikely to hold children’s attention on rereads.

Letters fly back and forth between a child and a unicorn until the two finally meet in person.

The initial double-page spread shows a light-skinned teacher facing a class of children at their easels. “Our art and pen pal units have been combined,” the teacher tells them. “We’ll be mailing pictures and images along with each letter.” On the next page, a unicorn teacher extends the lecture—to a group of chubby young diversely hued unicorns. This teacher advises the students to ask their pen pals questions, to talk about their own lives, to be creative, and to enjoy themselves. Over the course of the school year, we see a light-skinned child called Constance Nace-Ayer (who, as her name suggests, is a little grumpy about the pen pal project, at least initially) exchange handwritten letters and artwork with a more upbeat pink unicorn named Nicole Sharp. There is plenty of wordplay and some sly, subtle indications that the pen pals sometimes misunderstand each other. At the book’s climax, when the pen pals all meet face to face, Constance and Nicole are surprised to learn each other’s respective species. While young readers will appreciate the cutesy illustrations, the pen pals’ decision to remain friends despite their differences falls a bit flat. The story depicts this moment as a huge triumph, but what human—no matter how narrow-minded—would reject an offer of unicorn friendship? (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Adorable but unlikely to hold children’s attention on rereads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593206942

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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