It’s formulaic, but the audience it’s carefully calculated to appeal to will probably adore it.



From the Melowy series , Vol. 1

Anthropomorphic magical pegasuses go to a school for magical horses.

Aura, a “magical land” that’s “in a distant galaxy,” has four island realms (Winter, Spring, Day, and Night) that are populated by pegasuses. Some pegasuses are Melowies, marked with a hidden symbol on their wings that indicates magical abilities. Melowies are called to school at the Castle of Destiny in the clouds. Frontmatter details these realms, provides a map of the castle, and offers short profiles on the five main characters. The story opens on the day the new Melowies arrive—which is also the anniversary of Cleo’s arrival day (the day she was mysteriously found at the castle, origins unknown, with no Melowy mark). The book centers on Cleo and Maya, a shy pegasus from Spring. During the entrance test, Cleo mistakenly enters and, when Maya asks her to, stays to help—unsurprisingly, she ends up assisting all of the main characters. Though she wasn’t supposed to take the test, as Cleo passed it, she’s now a student. She’s then gifted a necklace she had when she was found—a mysterious locket that won’t open (at least not until a later book). The brightly colored pegasuses have unicorn horns, highly decorative wings, heavy eye makeup, and long, flowing manes—there is not a hint of subtlety about them. The epilogue’s twist foreshadows a threat to Aura.

It’s formulaic, but the audience it’s carefully calculated to appeal to will probably adore it. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-15174-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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