Standard-issue girlie wish fulfillment.

SUNBEAM'S SHINE

From the Unicorn Princesses series , Vol. 1

A unicorn-loving girl goes to a magical world to help a unicorn princess.

When wizard-lizard Ernest botches a spell, he accidentally causes one of the unicorn royals, Princess Sunbeam, to lose her magic yellow sapphire, which is the source of her powers. The only way to reverse the spell is for a human girl to venture to the Rainbow Realm, find the gemstone, and return it—with a catch: only those who believe in unicorns can see them. All this information comes in the first chapter through not-so-graceful exposition. Luckily for the Rainbow Realm, unicorn-obsessed Cressida Jenkins (who has straight, dark hair but is otherwise racially ambiguous) finds the magical key dropped by Sunbeam while Sunbeam was searching for a girl to help, bringing them together and Cressida to the Rainbow Realm. After more exposition about the unicorn princesses and their magical roles (Sunbeam’s is to provide sunlight), and a not-so-nice joke about malodorous human boys, Cressida and Sunbeam head to the desert Glitter Canyon, where they converse with talking sand dunes and cacti (who are in a feud). Between the clunky exposition, precious prose, and flimsy characterization, this comes across as just so much cotton candy. Sequel Flash’s Dash publishes simultaneously.

Standard-issue girlie wish fulfillment. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-325-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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