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A testament to the joy of creation and a celebration of a different kind of beauty—sparkling indeed.

Schneider’s playful take on the beauty makeover upends expectations with comedic—and powerful—results.

When Amelia receives Princess Sparkle-Heart, the girl and doll become fast friends. From dancing and tea parties to weddings and secrets, they share almost everything—much to the chagrin of the family dog. Growling and glowering his way across spreads, the canine has it in for the doll. So it’s no surprise when tragedy strikes and Sparkle-Heart is torn to shreds. But all is not lost, as Amelia and her mom make the doll anew. With extra stuffing for “protection,” a few extra button eyes (because it’s hard to choose “just two”), some “good teeth” and a comic-book–inspired outfit, the transformation is complete. After a suspenseful makeover reveal, it’s clear Amelia adores her now-monsterlike doll more than ever—and in that moment, Schneider redefines beauty and what is “princess.” Meticulous pen, ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture Amelia’s emotions; she is reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking, with her red, statement hairdo, blue denim overalls and plucky personality. Cinematic illustrations play with proportion and perspective, echoing the work of comic-book luminaries Geof Darrow and Moebius. A clever cover, with its curvy, bedazzled, pink title splashed across the page, acts as a beacon to the princess-obsessed, while craft-licious lettering toward the bottom hints at the tale’s interior.

A testament to the joy of creation and a celebration of a different kind of beauty—sparkling indeed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-14228-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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