There’s an apple neatly hidden in this superhero candy treat.

TEN STEPS TO FLYING LIKE A SUPERHERO

A toy superhero tries to fly with help from his human child sidekick.

Lava Boy, a White child, and Captain Magma, a superhero toy who presents as a White male, work together to save the day all the time. Captain Magma has many powers: superstrength, lava vision, and friendliness so strong it wins over evil villains. But he can’t help but wish he could fly. Once, a bird picked him up and flew with him; he dreams of repeating the experience, but to no avail. And he secretly fears Lava Boy might replace him for a better superhero, like Meteor Shower, a Black female superhero who flies. Captain Magma enlists Lava Boy to help him learn to fly, with a 10-step plan involving craft supplies, feathers, a high launching spot, and, of course, trying again if you fail. After Meteor Shower rescues Captain Magma, Lava Boy and Meteor Shower’s human sidekick, Star Girl (who is also Black), run off together, clad in their superhero costumes and clutching their respective toys. While some of the later plot turns feel a bit arbitrary, this simple, easy-to-read tale explores childcentric issues of relationships, trust, and learning with a humorous touch. Bright illustrations in primary colors with green backgrounds, fun lettering, and occasional speech bubbles evoke the comic-book superhero tradition. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67.5% of actual size.)

There’s an apple neatly hidden in this superhero candy treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62779-650-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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