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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Cuter as a child-narrated video, but the message is worthy enough to justify this less-evanescent medium.

THE CIRCLES ALL AROUND US

How and why a symbol of exclusion can be transformed into just the opposite.

The circle is depicted literally in the illustrations but regarded as metaphorical in the unpolished if earnest rhyme. It begins as a mark “on the ground [drawn] along each shoe” (and then, according to the picture, around toes and heels) as “a safe little place for just one person.” But that makes no more sense that a library with “just one book”—and so it should be expanded to include family, friends, and ultimately the whole world: “In the circles all around us / everywhere that we all go / there’s a difference we can make / and a love we can all show.” Expanding on the Instagram video from which this is spun, the simply drawn art shows one button-eyed, pale-skinned child with a piece of chalk drawing and redrawing an increasingly large circle that first lets in a sibling and their interracial parents, then relatives (including another interracial couple), then larger groups (diverse in age and skin tone, including one child in a wheelchair and one wearing a hijab). In subsequent views figures mix and match in various combinations with interlocking circles of their own while waving personal flags here (“I only like SPORTS!”; “I’m Team CAKE!”) and sharing doughnuts there until a closing invitation to regard “wonder-eyed” our beaming, encircled planet. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Cuter as a child-narrated video, but the message is worthy enough to justify this less-evanescent medium. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32318-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more