For very girly princesses-at-heart.

BELLA'S BIRTHDAY UNICORN

From the Unicorn Magic series , Vol. 1

The author of the Canterwood Crest series switches from horses to magical unicorns in this chapter-book series opener.

Princess Bella lives in the Crystal Kingdom, where magic, unicorns and royalty coexist with intercoms and photography. As a royal, Bella’s eighth birthday is important—her aura will become visible, and she will get her own unicorn. Three birthday storylines ebb and flow: Bella’s commoner best friends feel left out by the royal traditions; Bella periodically worries that no unicorn will Pair with her at the unicorn ceremony; and a mysterious woman with an evil, red aura and her own bad unicorns is rumored to live on the edge of town. While the book respects Bella’s friends’ feelings with regard to privilege, the plotline is simply resolved—at first only royals are allowed in the special birthday parade, and then that’s changed so her commoner friends can attend. Rather like the evil fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” the mysterious woman arrives, uninvited, to trigger exposition and then leaves. The unicorn ceremony also passes without tension or surprise. The plotting is borderline adequate and doesn’t sparkle nearly as brightly as the descriptions of delicious meals, jewelry, unicorns and, most fulsome, dresses. Easy-to-read, descriptive prose is augmented by friendly illustrations.

For very girly princesses-at-heart. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1105-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

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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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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