An inventive, nicely illustrated fantasy emphasizing determination, bravery, and magic.


An elf solves a mystery in her forest home in this picture book.

In Cucuruzzu, Eli, a “moon elf,” is perplexed that sugar crystals in the forest are “turning anyone who touched them into hard rock candy.” Then Eli’s bunny friend Luna discovers that her baby, Doudou, is afflicted. Eli and Luna immediately seek help. A magician explains the phenomenon occurs when the Hallowshine dragon’s tears become sugar crystals, which “can be broken with a drop of his saliva” if done “by the next nightfall.” Fairy Lexie says to locate the dragon, they must retrieve a pair of magical golden shoes. Eli finds the shoes, which fly her and Luna to the dragon’s cave. They confront the sobbing creature, who feels guilty and lonely. Eli empathizes, noting: “I…am the only moon elf I know. But the animals of the enchanted forest have been kind to me, and I know they would be kind to you, too.” The dragon escorts them home, but night has fallen—it’s too late to save Doudou. When Eli cries, her tears cause the crystals to vanish, freeing Doudou and shocking the elf. The dragon vows: “Tears no more…and friends, forever.” Cabanel’s eventful tale offers an imaginative spin on a hero’s quest to save the day. Readers will enjoy following Eli in an ethereal setting filled with colorful characters. Ilchenko’s fantastical images feature lush forest scenes with vivid details like twisty trees and distinctive critters.

An inventive, nicely illustrated fantasy emphasizing determination, bravery, and magic.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77790-881-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Twenty Two House Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2021

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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