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From the Once Upon a Fairy Tale series , Vol. 1

A good-hearted good choice for budding fantasy fans

In this series opener, two children must solve a mystery to fix the magic mirror that makes winter possible.

A sweltering heat wave has descended upon the Enchanted Kingdom. When Kara visits her best friend, royal messenger Zed, she can’t resist checking out a message rejected by its royal recipient and marked “Return to Sender.” Princess Aspen needs help fixing her magic mirror in order to enable her ice magic to bring winter. After receiving permission from Zed’s gram, the proactive duo—plus a crow named Rooster—head off to try to help. They receive a frosty reception from the practically melting princess, who explains the mirror shattered; upon reassembly, it was missing a piece. She believes the culprit to be the sun princess, her sister, Sola. The heroes visit Sola, finding her friendly but exhausted, ready for summer to be over. While Sola knows nothing about the mirror mishap, the visit reveals the amusing true cause of the princesses’ feud—jealously over a shared monkey gifted by their parents. Both the monkey and the crow come into play in the satisfying resolution of the mirror mystery and in making peace between the princesses. The conflict is very gentle, posing no barrier to readers’ ability to grapple with the mystery, and the illustrations, plentiful. Aside from dark-skinned Zed and Gram, all characters in seen art are pale.

A good-hearted good choice for budding fantasy fans . (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-34971-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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From the Greetings from Somewhere series , Vol. 1

Not terribly remarkable, but the series has lots of growing room.

Second-grade twins prepare to leave the country, but not without first solving a time-sensitive mystery.

Ella and Ethan Briar are devastated by their parents’ announcement that the family is leaving their beloved hometown. Mrs. Briar has accepted a new job as a travel writer, a job that will send the family to new places all over the globe on a weekly basis. In an attempt to soothe the twins’ unhappiness about the move (“What about school? And soccer?” they ask), their grandfather—a retired, globe-trotting archaeologist himself—gives each a special gift for their travels. Mystery-writing Ella gets a journal; Ethan gets a special gold coin. On their last morning in town, Ethan realizes that his gold coin is missing—and they only have a few hours before they have to leave for the airport. While their grandfather does their chores, the twins methodically determine when Ethan last had the coin—the previous day—and make a list of places he visited to retrace his steps. This allows the twins to say goodbye to friendly faces throughout the town. This series-launching installment’s light on mystery, but it’s welcoming and accessible through expressive, frequent illustrations. The Mystery of the Mosaic, publishing simultaneously, takes the kids to Venice for their first overseas adventure.

Not terribly remarkable, but the series has lots of growing room. (Mystery. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9719-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2014

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From the Azaleah Lane series

Young readers will be happy to make Azaleah’s acquaintance.

When her baby sister, Tiana, realizes her favorite stuffed frog, Greenie, is missing, Azaleah promises to help her find him—but will she have enough time to help Tiana and complete her school project?

Third grader Azaleah Lane is anxious to get home and start her diorama of Nikita the tiger after a visit to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. However, before she can get started, she must help Tiana find Greenie. Oldest sister Nia is of little help, as she’s busy preparing to play Dorothy in her middle school production of The Wiz. In order to complete her diorama and help Tiana solve the mystery of Greenie’s disappearance, Azaleah must prioritize her tasks and pay attention to the clues around her. This inaugural book in the Azaleah Lane series is a fast-paced and fun read, and Azaleah is a sympathetic, likable narrator who, like readers, is learning new vocabulary all the time. She thinks aloud as she works to solve the mystery, occasionally (and realistically) losing patience with the sobbing Tiana. Lobo’s playful, full-color illustrations every few pages are just enough to give transitioning readers needed rests so they’ll keep going; they depict Azaleah and her family as black. The backmatter includes a glossary of vocabulary words, book-discussion and writing prompts, and instructions for making a diorama.

Young readers will be happy to make Azaleah’s acquaintance. (Mystery. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4464-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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