Imaginative, poignant, and humorous—altogether charming.


A grandfather gives magical potions to his granddaughter for her birthdays in this children’s picture book.

Little Madeline likes a lot of things about her Grandfather Gilderberry, a tinkerer who’s always inventing things in his workshop. But what she likes best, she says, is her grandfather’s magical birthday presents. Every year, he presents her with a box of potions and instructions to “Take a potion, take a brew. / Just don’t drink the pink.” Over the years, she’s discovered each potion’s temporary magical effects; the blue one, for example, turns her into a mermaid; the green potion gives her superstrength. Before her 15th birthday, her grandfather dies, but he leaves her the pink potion with a “Happy Birthday” note. While drinking it, she wishes to see her grandfather again, and she’s pulled back in time. Fegan (The World’s Greatest Mousetrap, 2019, etc.) subtly teaches counting and colors in this warmhearted, amusing picture book. The quatrains, which have an abcb rhyme, scan well and include comforting repetition. Kids will enjoy seeing the fun magical effects of Grandfather’s potions, which illustrator Wen (Secrets of the Great Fire Tree, 2019, etc.) vibrantly brings to life. The early-20th-century details and clothing styles are intriguing. Madeline’s family is portrayed as white while crowds include diverse skin tones.

Imaginative, poignant, and humorous—altogether charming.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-925810-08-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TaleBlade

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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A rollicking tale of rivalry.


Sweet Street had just one baker, Monsieur Oliphant, until two new confectionists move in, bringing a sugar rush of competition and customers.

First comes “Cookie Concocter par excellence” Mademoiselle Fee and then a pie maker, who opens “the divine Patisserie Clotilde!” With each new arrival to Sweet Street, rivalries mount and lines of hungry treat lovers lengthen. Children will delight in thinking about an abundance of gingerbread cookies, teetering, towering cakes, and blackbird pies. Wonderfully eccentric line-and-watercolor illustrations (with whites and marbled pastels like frosting) appeal too. Fine linework lends specificity to an off-kilter world in which buildings tilt at wacky angles and odd-looking (exclusively pale) people walk about, their pantaloons, ruffles, long torsos, and twiglike arms, legs, and fingers distinguishing them as wonderfully idiosyncratic. Rotund Monsieur Oliphant’s periwinkle complexion, flapping ears, and elongated nose make him look remarkably like an elephant while the women confectionists appear clownlike, with exaggerated lips, extravagantly lashed eyes, and voluminous clothes. French idioms surface intermittently, adding a certain je ne sais quoi. Embedded rhymes contribute to a bouncing, playful narrative too: “He layered them and cherried them and married people on them.” Tension builds as the cul de sac grows more congested with sweet-makers, competition, frustration, and customers. When the inevitable, fantastically messy food fight occurs, an observant child finds a sweet solution amid the delicious detritus.

A rollicking tale of rivalry. (Picture book. 4-8 )

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-91885-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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