From the Fabled Stables series , Vol. 1

Whimsical fantasy with the right amount of speed and cleverness for the audience.

A series opener about a caretaker of stables for magical and odd creatures.

Auggie is the caretaker of the mysterious Professor Cake’s Fabled Stables, home to one-of-a-kind creatures of all sorts. As the only boy on Professor Cake’s private island, Auggie’s lonely—the closest thing he has to friends are Miss Bundt (who he suspects was once a pirate) and Fen, a literal stick in the mud (who transforms to aid Auggie in his jobs and is not keen on friendship). One day, a new stall suddenly appears in the stables, meaning a soon-to-arrive creature is in trouble and needs rescue. Auggie must use his cleverness and resources to rescue Willa—a playful, shape-shifting, newborn wisp—from three robed hunters. When the hunters catch them and threaten Willa to try to get at a nonexistent treasure, Auggie cleverly tricks them and summons a rescue from a not-as-apathetic-as-he-pretends Fen. But back at the stables, Willa’s still not out of danger—wisps are moon creatures that only last for one night….The straightforward plot never allows tension to simmer too long without relief for the young audience; add in the comedically inventive creatures, and this book is calibrated to please. The full-color artwork throughout is vibrant in its shading and dreamy in execution, physically grounding the story while enhancing its fantastical otherworldliness. Auggie is depicted with beige skin and brown, curly hair and Mrs. Bundt with blue skin and hair; the hunters are diverse both racially and in gender.

Whimsical fantasy with the right amount of speed and cleverness for the audience. (Fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4269-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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