Spellbinding read-aloud gold.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS?

Is it a unicorn or a horse in a hat? It’s up to readers to decide!

A matter-of-fact narrator presents all the reasons why a “horse in a hat” is really just that. It couldn’t possibly be a unicorn. Or could it? As the “horse” trots along, readers will notice other “horses” in the scenery, their heads—and, more importantly, what could possibly be their horns—obfuscated by some detail (a rock, a tree, etc.). Readers may side with the narrator, but soon, the visual evidence seems to contradict the verbal. Even the narrator waffles in their certainty. When a page turn reveals abandoned “horse” hats, the mystery is almost solved. Or is it? Though “horns” clearly crown the “horses’ ” heads in subsequent spreads, they could also be a part of the background (a spire, blades of grass, etc.). The final conclusion in the debate ultimately rests on the readers’ own deductive reasoning. As coy as Jon Klassen, Murguia is a master of subtlety. The interplay between narration and illustration proves the unreliability of the senses, sharing just enough to keep the magic (and doubt) alive. Murguia’s muted pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations, presented almost entirely on double-page spreads, create a lush cartoon world. Careful readers might notice a final hint in the form of a lizard that just might be a dragon—a brilliant punctuation mark to this open-ended story.

Spellbinding read-aloud gold. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween.

PUMPKIN MAGIC

Magical moonbeams awaken a pumpkin patch to raucous Halloween-season revelry.

A moonbeam illuminates and energizes a smiley-faced pumpkin sitting alone on a stair; it promptly takes off to find a friend with whom to have a good time. An entire pumpkin patch, also sparked by the magical moon, instantly comes alive. And what merriment all the grinning gourds get up to! Their playful shenanigans include piling high on top of one another, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing, marching, and drumming, wearing costumes, and competing in games. They even engage in activities usually reserved for other holiday-themed icons—flying on brooms and making magic, for instance. As dawn approaches, the pumpkin leader escorts the cavalcade back home. At sunrise, each one takes up residence on a different house’s front porch and awaits that evening’s moonbeams to work their magic again. Liveliness and good cheer abound in this frisky rhyming tale in which the perennial holiday symbols naturally take center stage. Perky couplets that read and scan very well appear on most pages and are accompanied by energetic, expressive illustrations that highlight vivid oranges, yellows, blues, purples, and greens with touches of other bright shades.

Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-56332-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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