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A cautionary tale with a sneaky, entertaining protagonist.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

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An impatient girl gets stung by jellyfish in this picture book.

“One fine day in Jamaica,” a White girl named Antoinette and her parents visit the beach. Her parents say: “Don’t swim too far out, follow the rules and DO NOT GET INTO ANY TROUBLE.” But Antoinette disregards the advice and swims to a nearby platform where people are lining up to dive. She wants to perform the “biggest cannonball the beach had ever seen” and grows antsy waiting her turn. Antoinette slyly cuts in line and plunges into the ocean where she is “slapped and stung” by jellyfish. On the platform, the dark-skinned lifeguard points to a sign warning, “Danger: stinging jellyfish ahead,” and arranges for a boat to take him and Antoinette, now covered in welts, ashore. But Antoinette’s debacle hasn’t deterred her mischievous spirit. She approaches her parents covered in kelp, giving her a monsterlike appearance. Antoinette’s mother screams in fear of the “jellyfish monster.” Her father smells calamine lotion (ostensibly worn by Antoinette to soothe her welts). He laughs on realizing the creature is his daughter. Using engaging language and kid-friendly rhymes (“Plump and lumpy. Shiny and brilliant. JELLYFISH! They seemed to reach out…wanting to eat her like a nice roast beef dish”), McGregor’s lively story offers essential reminders. Antoinette’s plight underscores the importance of behaving appropriately and listening to others. Shira’s drawn illustrations are simple but effective, depicting diverse, cartoonlike characters and bright, beachy scenes.

A cautionary tale with a sneaky, entertaining protagonist.

Pub Date: March 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-52-558709-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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