An unconscionably tardy return for the young imagineer of the incomparable Adele’s Album (1988)—welcome back! (Graphic early...


A bucket, a small shovel, and an unfettered imagination are all it takes to transform a visit to a sandbox in a crowded public park into a brilliant adventure.

All young Adele needs to do is give her bucket a tap. The sand inside crawls out on its own to dance, buildings and parent-bearing benches in the background float out of the frame, and nearby toys and trees acquire smiling faces. Then down a Sand Dragon’s gaping maw tumble Adele and her newly animate companions to meet a tantrum-prone king, fly beneath a cloud of fluffy chicks, perch in a hot dog tree, and land on “a DESSERT island.” “Yummy! Eat up now,” says Adele gaily. “Who KNOWS what will happen next.” Indeed. Ponti slips in Sendak-ian caricatures and other sight gags as he propels his white child and her motley crew of tiny fellow travelers on. (All, except for an anxious toy aptly named Stuffy, are clearly having a grand time.) They proceed through a series of suddenly transformed settings to a final slide down a giant’s tongue that delivers Adele and all back to the sandbox. Readers, particularly the newly independent ones at whom this is aimed, will delightedly join the outing.

An unconscionably tardy return for the young imagineer of the incomparable Adele’s Album (1988)—welcome back! (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943145-16-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.


Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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Young Otto loves orange so much that when a sly genie rises up out of an old lamp he receives from Aunt Sally Lee, he uses his one wish to turn all the world that color. His ensuing bliss changes to blues, though, after he gets a gander at his orange lunch and then sees what happens on the street when every traffic light is the same color. Cammuso illustrates comics veteran Lynch’s tale in neatly drawn sequential panels, casting Otto as a cat (marmalade, of course) in human dress and pairing him with a blue, distinctly Disneyesque genie. Discovering that said genie hasn’t eaten in 880 years, Otto cleverly calls on the persuasive power of pizza to reverse the wish, and by the end all’s well. Low on violence and high on production values, this comics-format “Toon Book” will leave emergent readers wishing for more. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9799238-2-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: RAW Junior/TOON Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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