Noncloying but still incredibly sweet, this unicorn story bucks the trend.

ONCE UPON A UNICORN'S HORN

A little girl learns that inner confidence can make everything around you shine.

In a magical forest lush with foliage, fairy lights, and trendy, triangle bunting strung along the eaves and trees, a tiny tot named June roams in search of adventure. With patched overalls and a hooded cape, she’s ready. June discovers a grand castle (a treehouse) and a magic wand (a twig), but nothing prepares her for the sight of tiny horses who are learning to fly. “They shook their soft fur, / fluttered their sparkly tails, // and whizzed into the air.” Blue’s horses look an awful lot like wispy-tailed bunnies (with long ears and plump bodies sitting on their haunches), but this is an origin story, so unknowns are easily forgiven. Amid the wonder, June finds one sad little horse who is still on the ground, unable to fly. June wants to help. She waves her wand and wishes a great wish…but nothing happens. Her parents help her realize the magic is in being a good friend. A well-intentioned accident suddenly gives the tiny horse the power he needs, along with a fancy new horn to boot. The cozy forest and sincere narration thrum with the possibility of magic. But June knows: “My magic is deep inside. I don’t need a wand to fly.” June and her family present white.

Noncloying but still incredibly sweet, this unicorn story bucks the trend. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-22926-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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