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

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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Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom.

I WILL BE FIERCE

A multicultural girl-power manifesto featuring a feisty young girl who faces her day as a knight on an epic quest.

The unnamed narrator puts on her “armor” (a rainbow sweater) and fills her “treasure chest” (a backpack). Venturing forth to “explore new worlds,” she drives back “dragons” (neighborhood dogs on their walk), boards the “many-headed serpent” (her school bus, with schoolmates’ heads protruding from every window), and visits “the Mountain of Knowledge” (the school library) to “solve the mysteries of the unknown.” After standing up for her beliefs—by joining a classmate sitting alone in the cafeteria—the young girl returns home to rest in the lap of an older female relative, possibly a grandparent/primary caregiver, to prepare for the next day, when she can be “fierce again.” Birdsong’s repeated refrain—“I will be fierce!”—underlines the unambiguous message of this sassy picture book, and Chanani’s bold and energetic illustrations reinforce the text’s punchy, feminist-y declarations. They depict a joyously multiracial environment, consciously tackling stereotypes with an elderly, white, female bus driver and a groovy, Asian-presenting librarian with a green streak in her hair. The fierce protagonist herself has brown skin and fluffy, dark brown hair, and her caregiver also has brown skin.

Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29508-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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