This zombie may not be able to keep her body together, but she can sure keep her head in delicate situations and be a good...

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ZOMBELINA SCHOOL DAYS

From the Zombelina series

A student who is a zombie has more difficulty than most keeping it together at school, but her relationship skills are never in any doubt.

Math, grammar, spelling, and reading precede the much-anticipated show-and-tell (Zombelina’s “hip-hop’s to DIE for!”), and by then, readers will see where the tale might be going, as Zombelina loses the hand she raises to answer a question, and she puts her nose in her book. Literally. Sure enough, Zombelina and her dance both fall apart. But though the green-skinned girl is upset, it doesn’t keep her from building the nervous ghost Morty up for his turn on his first day in a new school. After all, what could be worse than Zombelina’s performance? After that, she, Morty, and her friend Lizzie (a living white girl) are fast friends. The tale ends with a dance party at Zombelina’s house after her classmates request dance lessons. Crow’s verses have the hip-hop rhythm of rap, though some will take some practice to read aloud smoothly. Idle’s Prismacolor-pencil illustrations portray Zombelina as a blonde with a style all her own. Zigzags and hash marks make it look as though her body parts are stitched together. Aside from the phantasmagoric, blue Morty, the rest of the class has a normal range of diverse skin tones.

This zombie may not be able to keep her body together, but she can sure keep her head in delicate situations and be a good friend. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-641-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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