Readers with a tolerance for ambiguity will find much to savor.

THE MYSTERIOUS STONES

After dreaming about “his papá, who ha[s] sailed away on the open sea,” young Kiki wakes up to the sound of a mysterious song floating in through his bedroom window.

Drawn by the music, Kiki makes his way to the beach to discover a white-haired woman gathering stones, disappearing into the ocean at the sight of him. Kiki runs in to tell his abuela what he saw, prompting her to share her own story of meeting the strange woman as a young girl. Abuela was gifted some stones by the white-haired woman, and she credits them with saving her sick mother. This gets Kiki thinking. Maybe the Lady of the Stones could help him bring his papá home? Pérez Díaz’s story has a strong folkloric feel to it, and there are some lovely turns of phrase: “Flying fish, shining with foam, danced on the waves.” The illustrations help shape the feel of magic, with their vibrant colors and patterns and whimsical, surreal touches. As with the text, the small details are what stand out. Fish on the ends of musical notes, Abuela’s magic rocks on a windowsill, the patterned rocks on the endpapers. Nevertheless, the book simply ends with a message of hope rather than an active resolution. The smattering of Spanish and Latinx foods and tropical fruits in the illustrations allow it to take place in many Spanish-speaking locales. Characters have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42.4% of actual size.)

Readers with a tolerance for ambiguity will find much to savor. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-869-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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