TEA WITH AN OLD GIANT

A simple, old-fashioned tale brought to life by stunning visuals.

A lonely giant and a small girl forge an unlikely friendship.

On top of a rocky hill, a nameless giant with lightly tanned skin and a white beard and hair leads a solitary life. Although he’s chosen to live on the hill because it’s “far away from anyone else,” he starts to feel lonely as he gets older; he’s tired of playing checkers by himself and making his own tea. So the giant makes the perilous trip down the hill to a nearby town. The inhabitants flee in terror—except for a light-skinned, redheaded girl named Arabella who doesn’t run away because “her legs were too short and her heart was too brave.” Arabella’s parents are too busy to play with her, so she’s eager for a friend. She and the giant spend the day playing checkers, reading books to each other, and having a tea party with mud cookies and pretend tea made from water, prompting the giant to offer to bring real tea next time. The folksy flow of the unrhyming yet rhythmic text lends itself well to reading out loud, but the breathtaking, painterly illustrations are the true stars of this book, creating a landscape to explore in each two-page spread and lending expressiveness even to the animal characters.

A simple, old-fashioned tale brought to life by stunning visuals. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781478868569

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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KNIGHT OWL

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • Caldecott Honor

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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