Clever, but the sophisticated humor seems aimed at older readers and adults.


Sometimes relatives are so weird that they seem to be from outer space. This one just happens to be from Mars.

When Teddy’s mother mentions Cousin Irv is coming for a visit, all he knows is that he lives on another planet. Irv lands and proves to be a bit difficult. He blames Teddy’s mother for giving “the worst directions,” eats everything in the kitchen—“in fact, he ate the whole kitchen”—keeps Teddy up at night with his loud breathing and listens “to the most horrible music.” Kaplan (Monsters Eat Whiny Children, 2010), a veteran cartoonist for the New Yorker and television writer (Girls, Seinfeld), pairs the wry text with spare illustrations executed in pen and ink with watercolor. Things take a turn when Cousin Irv takes Teddy to school. Irv finds out Teddy has no friends and decides to do something about it. The duo causes a stir at school, especially when Irv pulls out “his electromagnetic ray and vaporized a few things in the classroom.” The teacher bans the ray gun but as a result is vaporized as well. This spread is alarmingly effective: One side shows a close-up of a blue gun producing green rays, and the other is mostly blank except for a lonely pair of gray heels and pink streaks highlighting where the teacher once was. Soon Teddy finds more to appreciate in his eccentric relative, but then Irv returns to Mars, leaving Teddy quite lonely…until his dad has a change in work assignments.

Clever, but the sophisticated humor seems aimed at older readers and adults. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4923-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.


Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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