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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.


From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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