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


From the Book Buddies series , Vol. 1

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 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.


Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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