Readers may wish their own schools looked more like this one, maybe minus the swimming instructor and the mashed-potato...

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THE TRUTH ABOUT MY UNBELIEVABLE SCHOOL…

Henry, the dapper lad in the black suit with the unruly hair, makes another appearance in Cali and Chaud’s (A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum…, 2017, etc.) latest collaboration, this time showing a new student the highlights of their titular school.

While the new girl seems rather unimpressed, readers may raise an eyebrow or two at the class pet (a ginormous jellyfish), the music teacher—a Las Vegas–era Elvis look-alike with an electric guitar—or the tentacles escaping from behind a hallway door, two students and a dog caught in their grasp. Surely, though, they will thrill at the “shortcut” to recess and its attendant delights, which include swings, a slide, a Ferris wheel, treehouses, and a roller coaster, all up high in the branches of a single tree. In nods to The Wizard of Oz film and Harry Potter, the janitor sits behind a curtain watching and controlling everything, and the office of the magical principal is reached by rowboat that plies a basement river beyond a sleeping dragon. The ending scene explains the new girl’s blasé attitude, but once read, the surprise is gone. Chaud’s delicate lines and muted colors give the illustrations a bit of a Victorian Gothic feel, and the antics of Henry’s dog are amusing. The students and teachers are diverse, though both Henry and the new girl are white.

Readers may wish their own schools looked more like this one, maybe minus the swimming instructor and the mashed-potato machine…. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5594-4

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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