A playfully sweet and amusing collection that’s an excellent choice for reading aloud.


This illustrated children’s book includes fables, fairy tales, and other short stories.

In the 22 stories collected here, characters can be young or older, and the plots can be fairly realistic or fanciful. The volume features both animal and human characters in a variety of settings: a garden, under the sea, the present day, and a fairy-tale past. While most are original, some employ familiar elements from children’s literature or fables, such as a naughty, carrot-stealing rabbit or, in “The goat who didn’t have any milk to feed her kid,” a narrative reminiscent of “The Little Red Hen.” In these cases, though, the tales provide fresh takes, as in “The true story of the ant and the cicada.” A lazy insect idles the summer away, but instead of leaving him to starve, the ant king invites him to exchange shelter for entertainment. Several tales feature the classic motif of being rewarded for kindness to animals, as in “Once upon a time, a bear went to the circus,” in which a little girl frees a captive circus bear who later gives salmon to her picnicking family. Kalyvas, writing his second children’s book, has a good ear for dialogue and appealing repetition, even supplying read-aloud suggestions for one story: “Tickle-tickle-tickle, he tickled its nose with her whiskers (author’s note to parents: tickle your child’s nose at the same time).” The tales emphasize altruism, compassion, and a spirit of fun, always concluding: “And they lived happily ever after!” Illustrating her second children’s book, Gottardo supplies digital pictures that capture the tales’ humor. Apart from a Bedouin family, all the human characters appear to be White.

A playfully sweet and amusing collection that’s an excellent choice for reading aloud.

Pub Date: June 11, 2012


Page Count: 117

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.


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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