Read for the overall aesthetic and for the text’s gentle humor.

IF YOU WISH

A girl named Willow learns from a friend “inside [her] head” how to unlock her imagination when rereading a book.

Advice opposite the title page is an immediate hint about the approaching dreamlike quality of the text and the illustrations: “Read slowly, then… / Close your eyes / See the images / Savor the wor(l)d / Imagine the future / Feel the colors / Hear the sounds / Smell the paper / Touch the story / Enjoy.” The title page features the same gnomish, whiskered old man who, on the cover, gazes up at a girl on a carousel horse. As the page turns, readers learn that he is Tally, a gruff voice inside Willow’s head, advising her to end boredom by reading. When Willow protest that she’s read all of her books, Tally advises her to look for the “book inside the book.” There is a design flaw here: The stack of sentences in quotation marks does not clarify who is speaking, which may tie readers in knots. Under Tally’s tutelage, Willow embarks on a fantastical journey, flying above and into storybook scenes. The fantasy elements of the artwork are stunningly beautiful and subtly evocative of different centuries of Western artwork and literature. Unfortunately, inconsistent depiction of Willow’s apparent age is distracting.

Read for the overall aesthetic and for the text’s gentle humor. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-988-8240-80-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family.

THE BROKEN ORNAMENT

Jack needs some magic to help make this year’s Christmas the best ever.

Shiny, red-foil borders and embossed lettering on the cover invite readers into a suburban household of the mid-20th century. On Christmas Eve, Jack is dissatisfied with the decorating job that he and his parents have done. He finds one last ornament, but his mother says in alarm, “Not that one!” Jack accidentally breaks it, leaving his mother in tears. A tiny fairy called Tinsel appears with tinkly bells to help Jack fulfill his wish. Saying, “let’s deck these halls!” Tinsel tosses glitter, and a large tree bursts through the floor. Caroling elves burst through the door, followed by reindeer, nutcrackers, and snowmen. Double-page–spread illustrations show the house filled with holiday fun. (Children will wonder why Jack’s parents don’t seem to notice it, though.) Jack can’t get enough of the magic, but remembering the broken ornament, he asks Tinsel for help. She can’t give him a new ornament but does offer him a glimpse of his mother’s past that helps Jack understand his mother’s heartbreak and see a way to make amends. Slightly overlong landscape design, old-fashioned furnishings, and endpapers filled with ornaments give this a feeling of personal reminiscence. Jack, his parents, Tinsel, and two of the elves present white, but the third elf has brown skin.

A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3976-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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