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A breezy refresh for a little-known story with all sorts of intriguing associations.

A reworked version of a classic 1927 British fairy story by E.A. Wyke-Smith that strongly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Cossanteli takes two wayward orphans from the rule-bound confines of the Sunny Bay Home for Superfluous and Accidentally Parentless Children (presided over by Miss Watkyns, a spit-spot mistress distinctly akin to Mary Poppins) into a magic land of goblin-infested swamps and tunnels, armored knights, giant crocopotami, and like terrifying threats. There are also witches good and evil and, most prominently, Snergs, who are a race of short, merry, food- and story-loving folk with names like Wilmus and Pompo. Punctuated by the occasional feast (and sharp comments about the shortcomings of bad parents), the round of exciting chases, captures, and narrow escapes culminate in multiple transformations, from a physical one for fiendishly clever and scary witch Malicia and inner ones for electively mute orphan Flora and her unschooled friend Pip to their Snerg guardian Gorbo’s makeover from bumbling scatterbrain to hero, loyal and true. Castrillón supplies elegantly antique montages and spot art, with occasional views of the light-skinned central characters. This story, with clever wordplay and echoes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, will delight.

A breezy refresh for a little-known story with all sorts of intriguing associations. (Light fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-60945-808-9

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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