An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

THE IMPOSSIBLE WINTERBOURNE PRESENTS...THE ALPHABOTS

A debut, sepia-toned alphabet book from steampunk street artist The Impossible Winterbourne, designed to please both adults and young readers.

This book takes a surreal tone from the start, as the author welcomes readers to Winterbourne Workshop—which is also the name of his real-world art shop. An alphabet follows, featuring strange and frequently wonderful robots. On each two-page spread, a letter, printed in an old-fashioned typewriter typeface, is framed and placed against a muted, tapestrylike background. Below it is a description of a robot whose name begins with the same letter, illustrated in mixed-media on the facing page. Some of the best examples include the AquaBot, an underwater automaton who wears an old-fashioned diving helmet; the EcoBot, who’s made from sticks and has a tree growing from its head; and the IdeaBot, whose head is an old-fashioned lightbulb. Each one’s design has a steampunk flair, but some are eerier than others and might be off-putting to sensitive young readers; the GhostBot, for example, has rusted chains and a sad expression, and the ZombiBot is suitably grotesque with frayed wires and an exposed brain. The poetry scans well throughout, and the rhymes create a nice read-aloud cadence. VoodooBot, however, is an unfortunate misstep that reinforces negative stereotypes of that religion. For the most part, though, this is an inventive book that’s similar in tone and content to Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet or Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-74378-2

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

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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