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From the Unicorn Named Sparkle series

A unicorn, a pumpkin, and a monster make for light and entertaining Halloween fare.

Who knew a unicorn could be a scaredy-cat?

Lucy and her unicorn, Sparkle, anticipate fun at a pumpkin farm. They play games; eat treats, which Sparkle loves; and have spooky encounters, which Sparkle doesn’t. Decorating pumpkins is the unicorn’s least fun activity of all: His (carved with his horn) looks happy, but Lucy’s is scary, frightening him so much that he races into the darkened pumpkin patch, a worried Lucy calling after him. Sparkle hides; hearing a terrifying wail, he concludes it’s a “pumpkin monster.” Opening a large pumpkin, Sparkle steps inside, creating a perfect new hideaway. It’s perfect—except he still hears the monster’s fearsome cry and quakes in terror so much the pumpkin detaches from its vine and careens down a hill. Just then, Lucy spies a large pumpkin hurtling toward her and believes she’s within a monster’s clutches—until the pumpkin breaks open and…all ends well. Children will enjoy this cute but thin Halloween story that offers some thrills, sweet good cheer, and reassurances that loyal friendship rises above all. Illustrations are lively, humorous, and expressive; onomatopoeic sounds in large capitals are incorporated into text and art to dramatic effect. Lucy has dark, curly hair and pale beige skin. Sparkle is white with a pink heart on his rump; his blue horn resembles a party hat. Holiday-themed endpapers feature Sparkle.

A unicorn, a pumpkin, and a monster make for light and entertaining Halloween fare. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30850-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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