Delightful. (Picture book. 3-8)

READ REVIEW

HELLO MISTER COLD

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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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