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

UNDER THE WATER

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

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

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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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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