Young readers will never think about vegetables the same way again.

READ REVIEW

ALIEN TOMATO

Veggies aren’t just good for you: They know stuff, too.

Take the garden denizens who believe the strange red orb that lands among them is an alien tomato! A resident gopher thinks differently and tries vainly to change their minds. The vegetables wonder how to deal with the newcomer—is it dangerous?—and decide to be friendly and welcoming. Allie, the name they give the visitor, doesn’t respond. The gopher knows why, shouting with exasperation: “It’s just a red ball!” The veggies ignore the gopher and throw a party, giving Allie a crown. Under cover of night, the jealous rodent secretes Allie in its underground lair and hides the crown. The bewildered vegetables can only conclude Allie returned to her planet. Meanwhile, the gopher covertly plays with the “red ball” until…the final satisfying twist awards the gopher a comeuppance and proves the veggies right. This comical tale will captivate readers with its animated protagonists and surprising ending. The veggies zing with lively personalities and expressiveness, conveyed in both cartoon faces and speech bubbles, and the mammalian buttinski is a know-it-all hoot. The adorable illustrations of plant foods—broccoli, asparagus, peas, radishes, carrots, beans, and others—may encourage even greens-averse kids to think of them more positively (and, perhaps, try them). Allie is equally fun in “her” stolidity and in pulling off that who-would-have-guessed-it feat.

Young readers will never think about vegetables the same way again. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-976-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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