Another bullying book that resolves with the bullies’ targets proving their usefulness. Skip.

DRAGONS FROM MARS GO TO SCHOOL

Nathaniel and his friends Fred and Molly, the eponymous Dragons From Mars (2016), are back, this time attending school on Earth.

Molly and Fred aren’t too sure about going to human school, but Nathaniel assures them they’ll be treated like stars. Molly still worries, and her fears turn out to be well grounded even though they stem from something the dragons have no control over: their size. The school doors are a problem that some breath-holding and gut-sucking solve, but no one can reconstruct the chair that Fred smashes into pieces, and the kids start to tease him. Molly will have none of it. She quickly launches into a lecture of all the “remarkable stuff” dragons can do, and just like that, the children are friends instead of bullies: “We just didn’t know that you guys were so cool.” Aronson’s verses scan well enough, but there’s nothing inspired in them, and the rhymes are lackluster. While bright, Jack’s digital illustrations fail to make up for the text. Facial expressions are a particular weakness, with the dragons often appearing vacuous. Nathaniel is a white redhead; his classmates are diverse.

Another bullying book that resolves with the bullies’ targets proving their usefulness. Skip. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-236851-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Boy and dragon close their day with a bedtime read ("Knight Boy," which looks like a graphic novel featuring a...

ME AND MY DRAGON

From the Me and My Dragon series

Young dragon lovers not quite ready for the film How to Train Your Dragon will appreciate this gentle, imaginative account of what having a dragon as a pet might be like.

Charming digital art features a bright-red, not-too-scary dragon, who starts out small at "Eddie's Exotic Pets." Exotic he may be, but with understated humor he's shown doing all kinds of regular-pet stuff: going to the vet for a checkup, sticking his head out the car window on the way home (except this pet's head sticks out of the sunroof), chewing on a shoe, going for a walk on a leash (except he flies, rather than walks) and more. The goofy expression on Sparky's face is just like that of an eager, friendly puppy, complete with tongue hanging out, and is especially funny when he's scaring folks unintentionally (sticking his head in the schoolroom window for show-and-tell, for example). The wry tone of the text complements the illustrations' comedy, especially in issuing some cautionary advice: "(But don't give them broccoli. It gives them gas. And you don't want a fire-breathing dragon with gas.)"

Boy and dragon close their day with a bedtime read ("Knight Boy," which looks like a graphic novel featuring a familiar-looking red dragon); this amiable story can help real-life families do the same. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-278-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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