Delightful. (Picture book. 3-8)


From the Tales from the Hidden Valley series , Vol. 2

The second book in the Tales from the Hidden Valley picture-book series, translated from Spanish, sets the storybook tone by repeating its predecessor’s lead-in paragraph, then moves into its winter-setting story.

Maximilian Cold, “child of the richest…coldest family in town” wants to be a musician, so his horrified family disowns him. Then “The Band” he joins, disliking his musical improvisations, fires him. He hops a train, and the other musical hobos literally throw him out. Sheltering in a cave, he finds the floor giving way underneath him, and he slides amid “fossils and precious stones” to another world—the world Yula and the other anthropomorphic animals of The Artists (2018) inhabit. Porta’s whimsy shines as his impeccable design and fanciful illustrations are aided and abetted by the droll text. The tiny, onion-headed magical ballerina met previously (now delightfully called “Onion-head”) finds the shivering Maxi and dresses him in so many layers of winter clothes that he looks like a big “Thing.” The Thing inadvertently scares Yula (who was walking to Sara’s), and she faints. Concerned, Maxi carries her to a hollow tree. A watching raven becomes alarmed and flies off to tell Sara, who notifies her quirky friends, and they come up with a madcap scheme to drive Maxi away. All ends well, though, presented so matter-of-factly that readers will have no concerns that Maxi and the animals won’t become great friends. Maxi, the only human in the Hidden Valley, presents white.

Delightful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-56-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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