Gryphons might not be great, but this sweet tale of friendship certainly is. (Graphic early reader. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

GRYPHONS AREN'T SO GREAT

From the Adventures in Cartooning Jr. series

The Knight and his noble steed, Edward, find their friendship challenged when the Knight turns his attention to a new friend: a gryphon.

The garrulous Knight and his trusty, taciturn horse, Edward, are the best of friends. One day, while gallivanting around the kingdom (and unsuccessfully attempting to fly by jumping off a cliff), the Knight spies a gryphon aloft. Excited at the prospect of actual flight, he calls out to the mystical creature, and the two—after a slightly rocky start—become fast friends. They spend their day soaring across a robin's-egg-blue sky, as poor, forgotten Edward sits on the ground awaiting his friend's return. The next day, the Knight can barely contain himself as he waits for the gryphon's arrival. However, their sophomore flight doesn't go as smoothly as yesterday’s, and suddenly it's up to Edward to help his friend. Sturm et al. have crafted a gentle yet effective tale of friendship laid out in a clean panel structure and related with economical prose. This lively frolic is sure to please young readers, who should be not only able to relate to the feeling of being cast out of a friendship when someone new comes along and changes the dynamic, but also to read this independently.

Gryphons might not be great, but this sweet tale of friendship certainly is. (Graphic early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-652-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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