A sweet sisterhood seaside story.

JULES VS. THE OCEAN

Little Jules is determined to impress her big sister with an amazing sand castle…

…but the Ocean has other plans! Sima’s story hinges on Jules’ adoration of her big sister (unnamed and with slightly darker brown skin than Jules’ and their mom’s). When Mom brings them to the beach, Jules immediately starts building while her sister goes off with a boogie board. Jules toils away, and as the tide rolls in, the Ocean demolishes her creation. While Jules takes the Ocean’s destruction personally, her sister says, “this happens to everyone” before heading back out to the waves. Jules is discouraged as she sees other kids’ impressive, still-standing sand castles, but she persists only to be thwarted again by the Ocean. Her lowest point comes when the tides sweep away her bucket. Big sister comes to the rescue—not to save it but to help build another castle, using only their hands. It’s “definitely the BIGGEST…FANCIEST…MOST EXCELLENT” castle, but then, “Uh-oh.” A massive, spread-spanning CRASH! both obliterates the castle and leaves Jules and her sister exhilarated, and they race back to tell their mom what’s happened. In a twist that feels lifted from a Bob Graham story, “Mom assures them that happens to everyone.” Sima’s big-nosed cartoons are also reminiscent of Graham’s, in both the character-developing details (Jules’ ears stick out through her bobbed haircut endearingly) and their obvious affection for one another.

A sweet sisterhood seaside story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4168-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart.

THE MAGICIAN'S HAT

New England Patriot and literacy advocate Mitchell proves to have a touch of magic as an author as well as on the field.

It’s Family Fun Day at the library, and families of many sizes, constellations, and skin tones are participating. Amid book scavenger hunts and storytelling, a magician arrives. He is white and lanky, sporting a purple polka-dot vest and a bright yellow ascot. But most importantly, he has a very large, mysterious hat. He tells the children how he came to Family Fun Day when he was younger and read his very first book about magic in the library. Turning the pages and getting lost in the words inspired him to become a magician. He realized that it wasn’t just about spells and potions, but that books themselves are magical. Three children reach into the hat and find books about their future professions—Amy, a white girl, is a dentist; Matt, a bespectacled black boy, is a football player; and Ryan, a white boy, is an astronaut. The magician then turns the hat to readers, asking, “What are your dreams?” Previously self-published, the work gets a new look from Lew-Vriethoff’s bustling library and bright swirls of magic and bookish motivation. As an entry in the books-are-awesome genre, it’s mostly distinguished by the author’s clear belief in his message.

Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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