For readers unfamiliar with opera, this adventure will likely soar over heads like reindeer over rooftops; but for fans, it...




A new Christmas tale to share with children features singing reindeer and a treatment of the traditional Rudolph story with all the trills and leitmotifs of an opera.

As Act I of this debut picture book opens, a young anthropomorphic reindeer named Rudolfoletto (an allusion to Verdi’s Rigoletto) is born with a brightly glowing green nose. If that wasn’t enough to make him the object of mockery among his peers, he loves both opera and sweets of all kinds. His parents try to convince him to switch to salty snacks like other reindeer, but he remains resolute. In Act II, classmates mock Rudolfoletto at school for his green nose despite his having captured the attentions of a Scottish lass, Lucia di L’Antlermoor (evoking Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor). Luckily, due to Rudolfoletto’s high grades, he’s promoted to High Prancing School, where Santa Claus presides as headmaster. A cheerily singing Santa advises his reindeer students how to guide his sleigh in a double aria; Rudolfoletto grows quite attached to his new teacher, and they bond over their love of sweets and their hometown. When a fog rolls in on Christmas Eve, a crisis looms “despite efforts of the elf technicians to design an app to fix the problem,” a nice nod to a modern audience. Readers shouldn’t be surprised that Rudolfoletto’s nose saves the day, but the familiar story should generate giggles from children acquainted with opera or lap readers whose parents bravely burst into song, inspired by the many parodies that fill the pages. Presented like a libretto, with character names in caps, and with every image showing a member of the cast delivering information through song, the old carol feels as though it belongs on stage. Carlisle’s charming illustrations mix reindeer who stand like humans with their more naturally postured compatriots. The strategy never feels awkward; instead, it distinguishes the main characters from the chorus. Wheeler, a history professor and opera aficionado, offers a glossary at the end, detailing what each song title references as well as explaining musical terms such as aria and duet.

For readers unfamiliar with opera, this adventure will likely soar over heads like reindeer over rooftops; but for fans, it should generate a Christmas “Bravo!” with the promise of many requested encores.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937721-26-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Jetty House

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A friendly celebration of love for the youngest of readers.


A yellow chick is showered with love.

“You’re my little chickadee. / You mean everything in the world to me.” So begins this ode to a caregiver’s love for their little ones, a message emphasized by the “made with love” logo on the cover. The soft, pastel palette and simple, quick pace make this ideal for the smallest readers. The figure of the chick spreads so large across the page that its topknot is actually made of a stuffed, felt orange poof that rests atop the book, held in place by the back cover. Babies still teething will adore nibbling on it. Readers just beginning to learn how to hold books in their tiny hands will find much to enjoy here, but the window for use is a relatively small one. Caregivers with any familiarity with North American birds will be irked at the use of “chickadee” to describe this generic yellow bird, as it looks nothing like an actual chickadee, either juvenile or adult.

A friendly celebration of love for the youngest of readers. (Board book. 6 mos.-1)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-11089-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A killer thriller.


Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020


Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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