Quaint in scope, tremendous in flair.


In the land of Trelfdom, a trelf brother-and-sister duo must prepare for a cleanliness inspection from a strict inspector on the eve of a grand party.

It’s the 10th annual Strawberry Jam Party, and Roog’s in a tizzy. As the cooking and baking expert, he’s working hard to prepare all the tasty food—including cakes, pies, waffles, croissants, and more—for the celebration. His animal-loving sister, Teaflet, spends her time helping out animals in need, occasionally disrupting Roog’s laborious kitchen work. So when a letter arrives announcing a cleanliness inspection from the very strict (and “marvelous”—also “humble”) Inspector Maple, Roog twirls into distress. If Teaflet and Roog fail the inquiry, they’ll have to clean Inspector Maple’s house. “It’s a disaster! If we’re cleaning her house, we can’t be having a Strawberry Jam Party,” exclaims Roog. To calm her brother’s nerves, Teaflet volunteers to clean their house (“top to bottom”) while Roog readies for the celebration. Can the trelf siblings clean a house full of animals, pass the inspection, and host a grand Strawberry Jam Party in less than a day? Retro in its tone and aesthetics, Birdsall and Dyer’s humorous, enchanting collaboration is a slice of whimsy with a scoop of jam-errific fun on top. Featuring wire and wool figurines, clay objects, and watercolor artwork, Dyer’s contribution satisfies in pulling readers into Teaflet and Roog’s world, a mishmash of critters, confetti, and cakes. Birdsall, meanwhile, opts for a conversational narrative voice that’s like a mischievous and good-natured call for everyday adventure. Trelf characters have beige complexions.

Quaint in scope, tremendous in flair. (Fiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17911-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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