From the Eudora Space Kid series , Vol. 4

A fun introduction to chapter books filled with plenty of heart, humor, and handy life lessons for both kids and adults.

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The fourth entry in Horn’s chapter book Eudora Space Kid series finds the plucky hero playing matchmaker.

Eudora Jenkins lives on a spaceship, the AstroLiner Athena, with her “perfect” older sister, Molly, her Poxian mother, who looks like “a beautiful gray wolf standing up straight,” and her Powian father, who has an “octopus-like head, arms, hands, and feet” (Eudora and Molly are human girls). One day Eudora sees the normally cheerful ship’s captain looking blue (“I’ve never seen Captain Jax sad. He sometimes looks very frustrated and yells a lot. Like when kids try and sneak onto his bridge. He yells, ‘Get this kid off my bridge!’ ”). Captain Jax soon confesses to her that he wants to ask out Eudora’s teacher, Miss Allison, but he is too shy. Being the helpful third grader that she is, Eudora suggests the pair go on a double date with Eudora and her best friend, Arnold, to make the prospect less intimidating. She quickly discovers, however, that romance is never predictable, as their double date in the ship’s cafeteria is interrupted by Dr. Jimmy Ratz, the new doctor in charge of MedBay. Dr. Ratz confesses his own feelings for Miss Allison, but, as one might expect in an early reader chapter book, the love triangle is quickly and (mostly) painlessly resolved. Interspersed throughout the book are cartoonish black-and-white illustrations by Tondora that do justice to the goofy nature of the text. The book ends with a Planetary Republic Court transcript, an interview in which Dr. Ratz hilariously objects to the real-life author’s plot decisions and takes issue with how Tondora illustrates him.

Eudora’s stories toe the line between adventure and big life lessons in a way that proves both fun and educational. Her dynamic with Molly in particular manages to evolve beyond a stereotypical contentious sibling relationship when Eudora goes to her for advice about romance. It’s then that Molly admits that she goes above and beyond to show her parents that she’s responsible so she’ll be allowed to date, a confession that deepens the sisters’ bond in an unexpected moment of tenderness in the course of an otherwise silly narrative. The straightforward plot, relatively short page count, and simple vocabulary make this ideal for new readers looking to make the jump beyond children’s books. There are deeper themes present as well: Even though the planet Qlaxonia means to take over the galaxy, Eudora’s ship welcomes those Qlaxons who have chosen to defect. This kind of acceptance of all alien species is handled in a nonchalant manner but nevertheless speaks volumes, contributing to the book’s overall message of love and friendship. There is also plenty of kid-appropriate humor, as when Eudora describes her parents’ jobs: “Mom is in charge of the brig, which is like the jail on the ship for naughty passengers. And my dad is a marine biologist. But we’re not allowed to make octopus jokes. At least not to him.” While this is technically the fourth Eudora Space Kid entry, readers new to the series won’t have a problem picking this one up first—it works perfectly well as a stand-alone book.

A fun introduction to chapter books filled with plenty of heart, humor, and handy life lessons for both kids and adults.

Pub Date: May 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781736677476

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


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


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. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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