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From the Worry-Worry Whale Adventure series

Imparts a solid message: Try your best and be your fin-tastic self.

In this new series—a spinoff from the Pout-Pout Fish books—Willa has a whale of a problem.

Willa the whale’s a worrywart. She feels timid about raising her fin in class: What if she takes too long to answer or, worse, gets it wrong? When her teacher calls on her encouragingly, Willa remains silent. Whew! That worked; she’s saved. But Willa begins to reflect on the teacher’s comment to the class: “It isn’t always easy / To share the things we know, / But ideas, thoughts, and questions / Are the way we learn and grow.” At home, Willa’s parents let her know that she’s not alone in her fears. They do some role-playing, with Willa pretending to be the teacher. Willa learns about pausing before answering and, if necessary, giving a partial answer, then asking for help in finding more information. Willa repeatedly reminds her “students” of her teacher’s mantra. The next day, Willa feels confident about answering in class and realizes it’s OK to answer incorrectly. Guess who raises her fin now? This cute, jauntily rhyming tale may allay some kids’ concerns, though real-life worries aren’t overcome quite so easily. Still, it’s a tale sure to buoy young readers, and Willa’s parents are reassuringly lovely. The colorfully cartoony illustrations are sweet and expressive; Willa’s varied marine-life classmates are adorable.

Imparts a solid message: Try your best and be your fin-tastic self. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780374391522

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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