On their first play date, two girls have vastly different ideas about what their dolls can and should do.

The hostess, a brown-skinned girl with puffy red hair whose “perfect” bedroom is princess themed, owns a Princess Penelope doll that wears an evening gown and “real glass slippers.” The guest, an Asian girl wearing a dinosaur T-shirt, brought her Penny doll too—only hers wears a black motorcycle jacket, boots, and sunglasses. Readers will note that each doll resembles her owner. The dolls take over in the illustrations, with alternating black and purple text showing the girls’ suggestions for play. Princess Penelope wants to host a tea party and ride ponies. But Penny “isn’t a princess” and doesn’t have a pony. She’s a secret agent with a racing bike. Their ideas of fun clash, but when a werewolf appears in the kingdom, Penelope shows that she’s not “just a princess.” The two team up, using the Princess’ resourcefulness and Penny’s skills to save the day. The watercolor illustrations move from a pastel-dominated palette interrupted by Penny’s black suit to a green countryside and back again, skillfully transforming characters, expressions, and settings. The theme of merging girly things with smarts and power is rightly popular right now; this action-packed romp through two girls’ imaginations is a fun addition to the collection.

Delightfully clever. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-15607-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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