Glints of potential elevate an otherwise derivative, digitally composed debut.

BEYOND THE POND

Ernest D. transcends the ordinary by diving deep into his pond, encountering fantastic scenes that ultimately enhance his appreciation of home.

Determined, accompanied by his imperturbable terrier, Ernest D. dives down, “past the squid and sharks and shapeless / things, into his pond forever deep.” Kuefler’s digital images portray this backyard pond’s depths as the inky, lightless sea. Ernest D., sporting a vintage diver’s helmet, red flippers, and a knapsack full of supplies, emerges from the pond “on the other side”—a disjointed fantasy land populated by a baboon, dinosaurs, squirrels, stylized plant forms, and a bird that carries boy and dog aloft. This land’s not merely odd, but “ghoulish / and ghastly.” Bats, a spider, and a giant lend a temporary scariness to a few spreads, as Ernest D. bravely “battled and brawled / until the moon ducked low.” Surveying a dawn-pink, rainbow-and-koala–enhanced tableau, the boy reflects that “All this was hiding in a pond…. / How exceptional.” Diving home, he emerges back into a world that “looked a little less ordinary… / Beyond every street and silent corner was a place / unexplored.” The narrative, while occasionally evocative, renders Ernest D. as a contrivance rather than a compelling character. Spreads occasionally recall Jon Klassen’s technique and Irwin Hasen’s “Dondi” comic strips.

Glints of potential elevate an otherwise derivative, digitally composed debut. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-236427-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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An adorable adventure in cartography.

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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