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INVASION OF THE UNICORNS

Simply delightful (with a wry final twist).

When an alien unicorn descends to Earth, its mission morphs from embedded surveillance of an Earth family to just plain fun.

Bubble07’s log entries, addressed “Dear Fearless Leader,” comprise the narration. “You were right. We look exactly like the toy animals here.” Should the unicorn army invade Earth? To find out, Bubble07 wriggles into an arcade’s glass box full of plushy prizes and gets hooked by a dad for his daughter. (Dad and daughter present Black; mom, seen later, is a woman of color.) About Earthling Daughter, Bubble07 reports: “She loves her toys. She loves them to pieces! Some are missing their eyeballs. Is this going to happen to me?” Biedrzycki’s expert illustrations form a hilarious counterpoint to the alien’s clueless reportage. They begin in grayscale, accented by Bubble07’s otherworldly streams of neon-hued sparkles, as the spy experiences family camping and “show and share” at school. The jealous family sheepdog tries to bury Bubble07 in the backyard, but revenge is sweet: At night, discovering “amazing” peanut butter cookies, the spy leaves the empty bag next to the sleeping dog. “Fearless Leader…I must get this cookie recipe for our planet.” By Day 50, a snow day, full-color spreads depict the unicorn integrating into family life, experiencing Earthling Daughter’s birthday, cuddly bedtime stories, and a sick day as stand-in comfort animal. On the home planet, Bubble07’s final report recommends: “forget the invasion and send more of us to Earth for… / …a Unicorn Vacation!”

Simply delightful (with a wry final twist). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-272-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

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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KNIGHT OWL

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • Caldecott Honor

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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