The only thing better than reading about this full day of play is having one in real life.

TA-DA!

Two children use pets, toys, and props to create an imaginary world of endless scope and possibilities.

“Once upon a time,” a brown-skinned girl with puffy hair is playing happily in a crystal castle (pillow fort) with her (stuffed) animal friends, when…“dun dun DUH!” A dragon comes (a pet terrier), accompanied by a pale-skinned boy wearing magician’s clothing. The dragon breathes fire and destroys the girl’s castle. But—“Ta-Da!”—the girl uses her wand to “turn the dragon into a kind dragon,” and off they fly together. But then (“dun dun DUH!”) the boy becomes a pirate and takes the girl and the dragon prisoners. Then the girl escapes and takes “an island vacation.” The boy’s “dun dun DUH!” plot twists and the girl’s “Ta-Da!” solutions alternate (as does the typeface) until the boy walks away, disappointed. After living happily for a while with her dragon, the girl goes to check on the boy, who has become a magician ready to put on a show. She helps him by providing an audience of stuffed animals and joining the show, then they run to the kitchen for a snack (“Ta-Da!”), continuing to imagine treasures and underwater adventures together. The bold, expressive illustrations blend the children’s real world with their imaginary worlds, creating a lively display on the page.

The only thing better than reading about this full day of play is having one in real life. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-4513-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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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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