Completely satisfying. We wish for more.

THE SEA PONY

From the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series , Vol. 3

Lucky Piper Green has a Fairy Tree in her front yard that sometimes yields up treasures—not always what she wants, but what she needs.

In this third title in a charming series set on an island off the coast of Maine, the white second-grader finds a loud bosun’s whistle in the hole in the trunk of her favorite red maple tree. She would have much preferred a pony, but when her father takes her out to help on his lobster boat, she discovers the whistle attracts a seal. Perhaps she could train it to be a sea pony? Piper is a totally convincing second-grader, full of enthusiasm and grand, but not always realistic, plans. Her narration is a believable stream of consciousness, veering from one topic to another in a way that will be familiar to her readers. Her island home will be less familiar to many of them, and Potter continues to provide interesting details. Serving as the sternman on her father’s boat, Piper stuffs dead fish into bait bags and imagines the treasures in lobster traps: “pinchy crabs or starfish or prickly sea urchins or funny-looking sea cucumbers.” She does come to realize that the seal is a wild animal and not an appropriate pet, but her wish comes true in a more appropriate way. Cheerful line drawings add appeal.

Completely satisfying. We wish for more. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49931-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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