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Compelling characters in a story that’s too short for them

Calamity strikes when two sisters take a trek outside of their village in South Sudan to fetch water in this picture-book adaptation of the bestselling A Long Walk to Water (2010).

Nya, the elder, notices that Akeer is becoming uncharacteristically tearful, then listless. On the titular long walk back, Nya realizes her sister is gravely ill and must struggle to carry both Akeer and the water, going step by step, landmark by landmark. When they return, Nya learns that Akeer must be taken to the clinic, a journey of two to three days on foot, because she “has the sickness that comes from drinking dirty water.” Exhausted but determined, Nya sets off on the journey with her mother and sister—and that is where the story ends. The three pages that follow combine the fictional story of Nya and Akeer with the true story of Salva Dut and his organization, Water for South Sudan. It explains what’s happened to Akeer and that clean-water wells eventually come to Nya’s village, but it is not an adequate conclusion for this story that began so full of compassion, sacrifice, and love. Curious readers will wonder what the journey was like for the mother and her daughters and what Akeer felt as she recovered, but that is left to their imaginations. Pinkney’s swirling brush strokes, dominated by brown, terra cotta, and gold, indicate the desert landscape, focusing on the children’s tired, stoic faces.

Compelling characters in a story that’s too short for them . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78133-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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