A compelling story that just might teach young readers something about facing their fears of things that go “bump” in the...

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BITTERLY AND THE GIANT PROBLEM

From the Pinkaboos series , Vol. 1

“Pinkaboo” used to be an insult…until Bitterly and her best buds, Belladonna and Abyssma, reclaim and use it to silence the bullies.

Fright School is tough, and it only gets harder for the little vampire when she must deal daily with Vex, the green-faced (literally) bully who blocks the school gates. Bitterly feels even more exposed when her teacher, Miss Viper, a bespectacled, blue-haired serpent, chooses her to enter the dream of her little girl, Molly, to help her defeat a giant that plagues Molly’s dreams nightly. After being sucked into their huge classroom screen, Bitterly attempts to resolve Molly’s fear while her classmates watch from the comfort of their desks. Disappointed at Bitterly’s unconventional and decidedly un-monstrous strategy, Miss Viper expects more and shows her via the screen how she taught her own little girl to defeat dream witches. This enables Bitterly to imagine better strategies for helping Molly, but it also helps her manage her own antagonists. Drawing from a palette of primarily pink and green, Kelly immerses readers in this strange world of not-so-scary monsters, giving a distinctive appearance and personality to each creature. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are dynamic, keeping the story humming along. Companion title Belladonna and the Nightmare Academy publishes simultaneously.

A compelling story that just might teach young readers something about facing their fears of things that go “bump” in the night . (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4494-7831-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Andrews McMeel

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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