It is no small thing for a 7-year-old to cope with change. Branford offers chapter-book readers an appealing model.

VIOLET MACKEREL'S PERSONAL SPACE

From the Violet Mackerel series , Vol. 4

Leaving hurts, but Violet Mackerel finds something that helps.

The thoughtful protagonist of Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot (2012) first develops her Theory of Leaving Small Things Behind when her family leaves the beach house where they’ve spent a lovely holiday. Then her mother and her boyfriend, Vincent, announce their plans to marry and move to a larger place. Violet’s excited about the wedding but nervous about the move. Her older brother, Dylan, wanting none of it, relocates to a tent in the garden. The third-person, present-tense narrative convincingly sticks to Violet’s point of view as she and her family negotiate this tricky time. The gentle tone reflects the (nearly unbelievable) patience and understanding with which the adults deal with Dylan’s unhappiness and involve Violet and her sister, Nicola, in their plans. Fourth in a series of books now grown to six in New Zealand, this is similarly insightful about family dynamics. As always, in the U.S. illustrations, the “O” in Violet’s name on the cover and title page as well as the final grayscale illustrations inside (not seen) reflect small things from the story.

It is no small thing for a 7-year-old to cope with change. Branford offers chapter-book readers an appealing model. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3591-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

MEET THE BIGFEET

From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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