A warm, vibrant read. It would be wonderful to hear more from Piccadilly and her family.

READ REVIEW

PICCADILLY AND THE FAIRY POLKA

What do fairies like to eat? Follow the charming Piccadilly to the fairy ring and find out.

On the longest day of the year, the fairies throw a huge party and dance—what else?—the polka. Normally, people can’t see fairies, but the extra sunlight on the summer solstice is captured by the dewdrops, “which triggers a speck of summer delight…which inspires the glow of the fairies!” Or so the fairy prince eventually explains to the delighted Piccadilly, a grinning little girl with a round belly and rounder cheeks. One night, she watches her cat, Rufus, stare intently at a circle of overgrown flowers in the backyard. Probably fireflies, her mother says. But Piccadilly hears “fairy flies” and that night dreams of fairies eating cake. So the next day she enlists her brother’s help in baking a batch of cupcakes. She arranges them in a ring in the garden, right where Rufus had been staring, and unwittingly summons the fairy prince. (Or, maybe, as her mother suggests, she was just dreaming under the tree. “I wish my dreams were as fun as yours,” she says.) Piccadilly’s wide-eyed approach to everything in the world—the real world and the fairy world—is absolutely irresistible. She jumps out of bed in the morning, runs to the garden, dances, bakes, charms her family and fearlessly greets a magical creature, without the slightest skepticism. And it’s clear where little Piccadilly learned her open-mindedness: While both Mom and brother smile wryly at Piccadilly’s tales, neither one teases her or tells her she’s mistaken. What a joy to grow up in a house where fairies are welcome and treated to cake. Novelline (The Dance of Spring, 2011) winds out a story that’s complex enough to bear repeated readings. Light’s illustrations are bright and lively, with colors and shapes that evoke old-school animated films like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. While all the characters are likable and strong, Piccadilly’s cheeks and nose steal the show.

A warm, vibrant read. It would be wonderful to hear more from Piccadilly and her family.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0983531111

Page Count: 52

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2014

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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