An appealing family story with a sincere and goodhearted protagonist.

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BEATRICE MORE AND THE PERFECT PARTY

From the Orca Echoes series

Beatrice More plans perfect parties—but her little sister’s birthday has snuck up on her this year, and things aren’t falling into place.

Eight-year-old Beatrice is a list-maker who thrives on being “professional” and keeping things tidy. When she realizes that Sophie’s birthday is in just two weeks, Beatrice has every intention of throwing the perfect party—but there are obstacles in her way. Her mother’s birthday cakes are lumpy and often burned. Her father sees no reason to buy new decorations even though their leftover decorations are from Halloween and Christmas. And, the family having recently moved, Sophie doesn’t have friends to invite, so Beatrice hands out invitations to random kids at the local playground. Things start to look up when Beatrice finds the perfect present for Sophie at the toy store, but then the dog gets to it while Beatrice looks for a hiding spot that won’t mess up her perfect bedroom. The expected problems are compounded by some unexpected, chuckleworthy ones, but Sophie declares her surprise party “absolutely purvect!” (Her idiosyncratic speech patterns may grate on readers.) Beatrice is brown-skinned like her mother; Sophie shares their father’s curly red hair and pale skin. Full-page illustrations move each chapter forward. Beatrice is quirky and familiar, with well-meaning parents; her settling for less than perfect is predictably sweet.

An appealing family story with a sincere and goodhearted protagonist. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1709-8

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Charming, funny and true to life.

DORY FANTASMAGORY

From the Dory Fantasmagory series , Vol. 1

With words, pictures and pictures with words, 6-year-old Dory, called Rascal, recounts how she finally gets her older brother and sister to play with her.

Rascal’s siblings complain that she’s always pestering them. She acts like a baby, she asks weird questions, and she chatters endlessly with her imaginary monster friend. So they tell her a kidnapping witch, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, is looking for her. In her efforts to avoid capture, Rascal becomes a dog. As a “dog,” she’s invisible to the little-girl–stealer but appealing to her older brother, who, it turns out, always wanted to have a dog. She maintains her dogginess all the way through a doctor’s checkup until a surprise vaccination spurs her to speech and retaliation. Rascal and her invented fairy godmother, Mr. Nuggy (he doesn’t look much like a fairy godmother), use the ensuing timeout to concoct poison soup for the witch. Eventually, the witch is vanquished and order more or less restored. Redeemed in the eyes of her siblings because she’s brave enough to retrieve a bouncy ball from the toilet as well as wildly imaginative, Rascal finally gets her wish. Often just on the edge of out of control, this inventive child is irresistible and her voice, convincing. Childlike drawings, often embellished with hand-lettered narrative or speech bubbles, of round-headed humans, Sendak-ian monsters and a snaggle-toothed witch add to the humor.

Charming, funny and true to life. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4088-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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