The Ratso brothers’ third outing is good, anthropomorphic fun.


From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 3

It’s Poetry Month—time for the First Annual Peter Rabbit Elementary School Poetry Contest!

First-, second-, and third-place winners each get a gift certificate to Clawmart. Rat brothers Louie and Ralphie Ratso intend to win so they can buy new skateboards. But then woodchuck Chuck Wood, the coolest kid in school, derails the brothers’ plans. Chuck has a crush on geek-girl gardener Fluffy, a spectacles-wearing rabbit pal of Louie’s, and he wants Louie’s help getting her attention. Soon Louie’s abandoning his brother and their poetry project to carry out Project Fluffy. Louie’s advice: give her flowers, write her a poem, give her candy. After all, girls love that stuff: “It’s, like, a fact,” Louie tells Chuck prior to each attempt. After numerous failures, Ralphie tells his brother: “Fluffy is a person and not a project.” Their dad, Big Lou, agrees: “Women aren’t projects or objects.” To get a girl’s attention you need to find out what she likes and take an interest in it. When Louie passes this advice to Chuck, will the love-struck groundhog give it a try? A wry, third-person, present-tense voice narrates this story about crushes, brothers, and togetherness. While the denouement is developmentally spot-on (Fluffy and Chuck decide to be friends), the heteronormative assumptions about romance feel a little stodgy. Large type, lots of comedic black-and-white illustrations, and reading-level-appropriate text suit the book to newly independent readers.

The Ratso brothers’ third outing is good, anthropomorphic fun. (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0005-8

Page Count: 97

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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


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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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