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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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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