Sparkly, innocent, feel-good fun for readers needing just a bit of extra support before moving on to chapter books.

READ REVIEW

SPARKLY NEW FRIENDS

From the Unicorn and Yeti series , Vol. 1

In this new series debut, a yeti and a unicorn bond over sparkles and snow.

While flying over mountains, Unicorn spots the sparkly snow below and decides to take a closer look. Beneath, Yeti spots sparkles too—Unicorn’s! The sparkles get closer and closer until—CRASH!—Unicorn collides with Yeti. Apologies pave the way for a newfound friendship, but Yeti doesn’t see snow as sparkly and thinks Unicorn may be just a “tricky, sparkly horse with a horn.” So Unicorn takes Yeti up into the clouds to see the sparkle Yeti couldn’t see before. Two more stories follow—a grand total of three stand-alone chapters—that further delve into themes of friendship. The comic-book layout is a predictable mix of full-page panels and two to four panel spreads. Unicorn speaks in orange speech bubbles, while Yeti’s are purple. This helps readers decode some fairly complex speech-bubble arrangements, such as when multiple bubbles connect during a long conversation. The (nearly) all-dialogue story is accessible, but the lack of repetitive vocabulary skews it toward more fluent readers. Quintanilla’s distinct color palette mixes warm oranges with cool blues and purples, creating an expressive, inviting cartoon world. The final page includes instructions on how to draw Unicorn as well as a few simple creative prompts.

Sparkly, innocent, feel-good fun for readers needing just a bit of extra support before moving on to chapter books. (Graphic early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32902-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Acorn/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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