THE MAGICAL, MYSTICAL, MARVELOUS COAT

Joseph may have Had a Little Overcoat (1999) and another Joseph a “coat of many colors,” but neither sported outerwear like the outsized garment with magic buttons that swirls and flows about this generous youngster’s skinny ankles. On her dancing way she encounters a frozen swan and a giant who’s wilting under the hot sun, a small elf who needs somebody to love, three rabbits menaced by a snake, a ship in a storm—and look, there’s a button to remedy each ill. Nor does she hesitate to give them away, though to her parents’ dismay it leaves her (seemingly) buttonless. To Cullen’s rollicking dactyls Christiana matches splashy, spacious scenes rendered in bright, transparent colors, changing point of view on nearly every spread until the triumphant conclusion, in which the child finds the missing buttons in her pocket, and everyone she’s helped appears at the door to help her sing the adventure out. “It’s fashion, it’s couture, it’s high, and it’s haute, / That megacooliferous, / truly meltificent . . . mostly just marvelous coat!” A showstopping, imagination-stretching debut for Cullen, visually on par with Christiana’s previous extravaganza, Nancy Willard’s The Tale I Told Sasha (1999). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-16334-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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A heartwarming story with a bit of mystery, available in both English and Chinese.

WHO WANTS CANDIED HAWBERRIES?

In winter, an old man enters Cat’s Eye Hutong (alleyway or lane) with his bicycle, fitted with a rack filled with candied hawberry skewers, a Chinese treat.

He hopes to sell all so that he can buy medicine but first puts down a box of fish scraps in the snow. He calls for customers, but none appear. The charming, naïve watercolor-and–colored-pencil paintings begin to fill with feline images built into the architecture. Then a small child wearing a white medical mask (sometimes worn to prevent the spread of germs) buys a stick of hawberries, but as she walks off, the man notices a white tail peeking from her coat. Other young, masked buyers appear; all have tails, and one’s mask has slipped, exposing whiskers. Finally, a human girl buys the last stick, and when the old man asks her about the kids with tails, she informs him that only “Kitties have tails” but points up to cats on the rooftops all eating the red hawberry sticks. Careful readers will remember the fish left “as usual.” This book publishes simultaneously with an edition in Simplified Chinese, which features simplified characters and transliterated text in a small font directly above the characters. Backmatter includes a glossary keyed to intermediate-level readers, three-to-a-page thumbnails of the illustrations with English text, and note with cultural background (sadly missing in the English-only edition); further Chinese learning materials are available on the publisher’s website.

A heartwarming story with a bit of mystery, available in both English and Chinese. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Candied Plums

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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The Force is definitely not with this one.

STAR WARS BATTLE CRIES

CREATURES VS. ALIENS

To choruses of electronic roars, shrieks, and gabbles, licensed aliens take on licensed beasts.

Along with brief introductions and fighting-skills rating charts, Hidalgo supplies perfunctory scenarios for matchups between a Wookiee and a Sarlacc, a Tusken raider and a tauntaun, and three other pairings—inviting readers to press on designated spots to activate snatches of sound and to pick winners for each dust-up. His descriptions (“These rolling meatballs of teeth and tentacles are considered one of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy,” he says of rathtars) are generally more colorful than Park’s recognizable but bland, flattened, cartoony figures. The tinny hoots and calls issuing from the rear cover’s tiny speaker are likewise generic, mostly interchangeable, and sound as if they were recorded in a cardboard box. The scenarios and the art are free of explicit gore or violence, but there’s a streak of cruelty in evidence, as the Ewoks are sent to saw off a wampa’s horn “for a mystical ceremony,” and the Geonosian’s task is to egg a reluctant rancor out into an arena to fight droids for the purpose of “impressing some visiting Hutts.”

The Force is definitely not with this one. (replaceable batteries, on/off switch) (Novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7603-6404-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: becker&mayer! kids

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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