Original art and visually engrossing worlds will have readers visiting this book over and over again

PABLO & JANE AND THE HOT AIR CONTRAPTION

A duo’s blasé afternoon deviates into an unexpected journey crossing dimension and time.

Jane, a red-haired, adventure-seeking girl, and her cautious friend Pablo, an anxious boy with oval-rimmed glasses, have exhausted their array of entertainment options: they’ve played board games, flicked through comic books, dismembered toys. Their boredom produces a trek to the old house on the hill, where they meet Dr. Jules, a talking rat and the architect of a hot air–powered time contraption. A cunning cat, Felinibus, steals pieces from the contraption and tricks the trio into the Monster Dimension. Sabotaged and with a dinner curfew looming, they set out to find the missing pieces. Domingo successfully shifts from comic panels to labyrinthine double-page spreads, from a fast-paced adventure to a focused quest. In pursuit of Felinibus and the stolen pieces, Jane, Pablo, and Dr. Jules dodge danger time and time again as they drift over Lopsided London through Macabre Marrakech, Bone-Chilling Bayou, and other such locales to Immortal India. Filled with alliteration and challenging vocabulary, the story blends adventure, a familiar Where’s Waldo concept, myth, and expedition for a new, clever search-and-find.

Original art and visually engrossing worlds will have readers visiting this book over and over again . (Graphic adventure. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-36-9

Page Count: 57

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

THE LITTLE WITCH'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success.

THE MOUNTAIN WHO WANTED TO LIVE IN A HOUSE

A well-known New Zealand writer for adults offers children a tale about an inanimate object who wants to live like a person.

A mountain walks to town, where it meets Thomas, a white boy who stays behind when all the other people flee, and says: “I only want to live in a house.” Thomas decides that the mountain is too large for any house. There is a folkloric element to the tale, as Thomas tries in three ways to help the mountain get his wish. First he attempts to shrink the mountain with soap and water and then chips away at the stone. Finally, he decides that his father, an artist, will paint the mountain’s picture and put it in a house. He persuades the mountain that it can remain a place where people can enjoy picnicking and skiing and still live in a house with people, a Solomonic solution that may not resonate with the intended audience. The acrylic paintings, mostly in shades of brown and gray, are realistically rendered, except when the mountain comes to life with the craggy, anthropomorphized face of a sculpted idol. There is a surrealist, static feel to some of the paintings, and the language, no doubt aspiring as well to the folkloric, is stilted.

Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-002-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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