THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE INSIDE THE MUSEUM

The princess-like girl of the title is lonely within her idyllic, sequestered world until she is visited by children, either in dreams or in reality. Her solution is to address readers directly and ask for a picture to hang in her solitary castle to “keep her company in a magical world.” Written by an eloquent fairy-tale writer-scholar and illustrated by a much-honored picture-book artist, this defies easy definition. Clearly “the museum” represents the metaphorical archive where fairy-tale collections regrettably gather dust, and this enigmatic tale is a plea for children to enter their immutable worlds within worlds, lest the tales be isolated and lost forever. The text is grandly supported by Ceccoli’s chimerically beautiful paintings rendered in acrylic, which depict the girl’s phantasmagorical world. A bit of a mystical allegory, but also an invitation too good to decline for the fairy-tale lovers among us. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-83606-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on.

THE TEMPEST

Mirth, magic, and mischief abound in this picture-book retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

Ariel, the beloved sprite whose conjurings precipitate the eponymous tempest, gets top billing in this adaptation and recounts the narrative in the first person. Through Ariel’s eyes, readers are introduced to the powerful Prospero, his lovely daughter, Miranda, and the shipwrecked nobles who are brought to the island to right an ancient wrong. Ellinas’ picture book largely divests the tale of its colonialist underpinnings and breathes three-dimensional complexity into the major and minor characters. Caliban, for instance, is monstrous due to his callous treatment of Ariel rather than because he is racially coded as savage. Another delightful change is the depiction of Miranda, who emerges as an athletic, spirited, and beautiful nature-child whose charms are understandably irresistible to Prince Ferdinand. The text is perfectly matched by Ray’s jaw-droppingly beautiful illustrations, which will enchant readers from the front cover to the final curtain. The greens of the waters and the blues of the island’s night sky are so lush and inviting that readers will wish they could enter the book. Peppered throughout the story are italicized fragments of Shakespeare’s dialogue, giving both young and older readers something to enjoy. Large, granite-colored Caliban is plainly nonhuman; the human characters present white; Ariel is a translucent, paper white.

A must-own adaptation chock-full of such stuff as kids’ dreams are—and will be—made on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1144-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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