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 nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.


From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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