Young Padawans will be over Endor to get a bit of background on the endearing BB-8, but the story’s unlikely to reach beyond...

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BB-8 ON THE RUN

From the Star Wars series

Everyone’s favorite Force Awakens droid gets his own picture-book prequel, and he does a slew of good deeds.

Daywalt, author of The Day the Crayons Quit, chronicles the trials of BB-8 as he makes his way across the desert planet of Jakku. After an explosion in the town of Tuanul, BB-8’s separated from pilot Poe, who’s given BB-8 a map to find Luke Skywalker. Now it is up to the droid to get the map to the Resistance. BB-8’s scared, but he remembers what Poe told him: “You do good things, and good things will come back to you.” When BB-8 comes upon Teedo, whose luggabeast is stuck, BB-8 tries to help…but it’s a trap. In captivity, BB-8 meets F3-ZK, who goes by “Fez,” and the two hatch a plot to escape. Once free, the two are separated in an attack by steelpeckers. To complete his mission, BB-8 wants to get to Fez’s spaceship before it leaves, but he stops to help a scavenger family and a wounded happabore. Teedo reappears just as Fez and BB-8 are boarding the ship, and BB-8 distracts Teedo so Fez can escape. What about Poe’s words of wisdom? Happily, a young woman appears and saves him…the adventure’s just beginning. Daywalt’s clearly told story, long on event if short on flair, and Myers’ paintings (with digitally added special effects) mesh well enough.

Young Padawans will be over Endor to get a bit of background on the endearing BB-8, but the story’s unlikely to reach beyond that admittedly huge audience . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0508-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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