Skip this flight of fancy.

MARA THE SPACE TRAVELER

Sleepless Mara climbs out her window onto her roof and dreams of saving another planet while on a space adventure.

First published in 2019 in Belgium and the Netherlands as Mauro de ruimtereiziger. Op zoek naar een nieuwe planeet, this simple allegory describes a visit to a beautiful garden planet. The extraterrestrials Mara meets there (tiny lizards who, curiously, morph so that they resemble her two-legged shape) tell her their concerns. The Sun King’s love is burning the garden into desert. “The garden NEEDS me!” the Sun King shouts at Mara when she goes to deliver her alien friends’ request that he look away. Happily, she escapes to an underwater realm where water creatures create a “wondrous wave” that sweeps over the desert, forcing the Sun King to back off. Mara is grateful; the aliens are grateful; and Mara sets off for home in her imagined space ship. Plans for constructing a ship as well as sketches of her alien friends are included as an afterword. In Leysen’s pastel images, Mara and all the creatures on the world she visits have wide, manga eyes. The text has been smoothly translated by the publisher. Sadly, a distracting mixture of pedestrian typefaces, both serif and sans-serif, mars the presentation. Young readers who might appreciate the voyage will be put off by the tiny print that carries much of the narrative.

Skip this flight of fancy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60537-527-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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