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From the Book Buddies series , Vol. 1

A beguiling series opener that gently conveys the upside of adapting to unwelcome changes.

In this series opener, a long-forgotten doll is dismayed to find herself repurposed as a library toy for children to check out.

Ivy, a brown-skinned doll with dark bangs and braids, misses Anne, the brown-skinned girl who once played with her, made her clothes, and whispered secrets. Years later, Anne, now a librarian, rediscovers Ivy and makes her a Book Buddy. Ivy, who just wants Anne to play with her again, is hurt to hear Anne call her “my old doll.” The stuffed-animal Book Buddies welcome Ivy—but not Lilyanna, a blond, White princess doll and proto-mean girl who snubs Ivy as a “hand-me-down toy.” (The polite term, a motherly hen says, is “well loved.”) A little girl named Sophie, 6, borrows Lilyanna, pressuring her 8-year-old stepsister, Fern, into checking out Ivy; Sophie’s little brother, Ethan, 4, chooses Piper, a flying squirrel. Like Ivy, Fern is distressed. Longing for time alone with her dad during her short visits and less time with her younger stepsiblings, she confides in Ivy, who listens eagerly. A mild adventure in the backyard offers opportunities for the toys to get to know one another and for Fern to work on her place in her dad’s new family. Like the story, the charmingly retro illustrations honor the genre’s antecedents, from Rumer Godden’s sentient dolls to the Toy Story franchise. Fern and her father both have brown skin and dark, tightly curled hair; Sophie, Ethan, and their mom all present White.

A beguiling series opener that gently conveys the upside of adapting to unwelcome changes. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1354-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.

A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel.

Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker. When the queen’s prized emerald pendant goes missing, Lucas and Clara set off to find it. They follow the jewel as it changes hands, interviewing each temporary owner. Their adventure cleverly introduces the series’ world and peoples, taking the children to the fairy island of Primlox, the trolls’ home of Burth, the wizard island of Hobsgrove and finally Mermaid’s Cove. By befriending the mermaids, Lucas and Clara finally recover the jewel. In thanks, the king gives Clara a horse of her own so that she may ride with Lucas on their future adventures. The third-person narration is generally unobtrusive, allowing the characters to take center stage. The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text.

 A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9691-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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