Completes a seasonal round with dashes of mystery, adventure, and conflict resolved in a wash of bonhomie…plus some big...


From the Tales from the Hidden Valley series

The annual celebration of Dragon’s Day to mark the beginning of summer is very nearly spoiled once again for the residents of Hidden Valley when all the fireworks disappear.

It’s really just a misunderstanding. Emerging as she does once a year from the lake, blue-skinned Aqua—described as looking “just like a mermaid” but with legs rather than fins in the illustrations—secretly gathers up the fireworks and other unattended treasures to keep them safe. When Yula, Ticky, and the other residents (who are drawn as diverse, anthropomorphic woodland creatures) confront the supposed thief, she swims off in a rage. Then her pursuers follow in a fishlike submarine they find that’s named Olivier—but are swallowed by the supposedly legendary dragon that had been sleeping at the bottom of the lake. High feelings turn to warm ones after everyone in the valley is treated to a spectacular display as the surprised dragon rises up, spouting a fountain of multicolored rockets (turns out Aqua had hidden them in the sub). Porta brings the ungainly charm of his three previous seasonally themed Hidden Valley outings to this (probable) closer, filling out the ensemble cast with further unconventional characters and leaving Aqua, Olivier, the dragon, and all the rest gathered at a festive banquet beneath moonlit trees.

Completes a seasonal round with dashes of mystery, adventure, and conflict resolved in a wash of bonhomie…plus some big explosions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-911171-68-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.


From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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