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WITCH & WOMBAT

A spellbinding tale that encourages readers to accept—and celebrate—what makes us different.

A bespectacled young witch longs for a cat but ends up with something unexpected.

Though Wilma is excited for her first feline pet, when she goes to the Beast Buddies Pet Shop there are no more cats; instead, she is offered a wombat. She begrudgingly takes the dumpy, snoozy chum but worries: “Everyone else brings cats to school. Cats have been friends to witches for centuries. What a cat-tastrophe!” Unfortunately, Wombat is afraid of heights, which makes mastering Broom-Flying Basics a challenge; can’t perch on the edge of a cauldron during Brewing Potions for Beginners; and doesn’t stay in the required spell boundary zone, causing a spell to go disastrously wrong. Wilma is so frustrated she wishes Wombat would disappear. And Wombat does just that—by burrowing deep into the ground. Sprinkled with wombat facts (Wilma’s remembering that wombat scat is cube-shaped helps her follow a trail of poop to find her pal), this is a winning testament to true friendship. Wilma sets aside her assumptions of what a witch’s companion should look like and realizes just how wonderful Wombat truly is. This is a not-so-spooky tale perfect for Halloween and beyond. Wilma has bluish-black hair and pale skin among a diverse class. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A spellbinding tale that encourages readers to accept—and celebrate—what makes us different. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780593569634

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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