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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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Mia recognizes that she’s been given a special treat that doesn’t come to all children whose loved ones live far away, which...

LAST STOP ON THE REINDEER EXPRESS

Mia makes a Christmas card to send to her faraway grandfather, although she’s afraid it won’t reach him in time.

At the Christmas market with her mother, she finds a mysterious mailbox emblazoned with the words “The Reindeer Express” and “Turn knob three times to send parcel.” Mia steps through a door to a marvelously decorated room, where a cheerful woman directs her through another door. Mia finds herself in a magical, snowy forest. A reindeer whisks her away over a moonlit harbor, past a wondrous, sparkly city, and finally to Grandpa’s home in the mountains. Rare for picture books, Grandpa is on the youngish side, with the same red hair and white skin as Mia and her mother; Mia’s glasses are another welcome feature. Stepping back through the mailbox, she finds herself back in the market and that no time has elapsed. She and her mother return home to celebrate a joyful Christmas. Die-cut pages and lift-the-flap doors—some pleasingly challenging to find—creatively provide a sense of magic throughout. The book’s delightful, quiltlike design and geometric shapes allow readers’ eyes to move easily across the pages to spot hidden doors and windows. Fir trees and onion-domed buildings decorate the northern scenes, and endpapers include maps with an arctic feel.

Mia recognizes that she’s been given a special treat that doesn’t come to all children whose loved ones live far away, which makes this title especially resonant for readers in her circumstance. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7166-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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