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Good concept and visuals but not totally worth howling about.

A modern “Little Red Riding Hood” with a twist.

Distracted by the device in her hand, Little Red heads down the dangerous fork to her grandmother’s home. She wanders into the Wolf-Filled Woods, where wolves—of every “type, shape, and size”—hungrily lurk along the path. Eyes still glued to her smartphone, Red doesn’t see a single one. That is, until the “biggest and baddest” wolf emerges from behind a tree. Red throws her phone. She trembles, shivers, and even plays dead until she gets the “bright, helpful thought” to stand up to the wolf instead. She warns the wolf of a nearby werewolf that will gobble him up. The wolf is skeptical, but he asks Red whether each wolf in the forest—from square (-shaped) wolf to barely there wolf—is the loup garou in question. Soon, the full moon is in sight and—surprise!—Red transforms into the werewolf. Hunt’s colorful, eye-catching cartoon illustrations are filled with whimsical background details. The staging and facial expressions give the proceedings an animated-movie feel. Sullivan’s clever concept effectively flips the script on the classic tale. While the memorable twist itself is up to par with the one in Mo Willems’ That Is Not a Good Idea (2013), the preachy ending and often forced rhyming couplets cheapen the fun of this otherwise vibrant tale. Red and her grandmother have light-brown skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Good concept and visuals but not totally worth howling about. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948931-27-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hazy Dell Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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