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

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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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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