Light entertainment for kids who like drama.



Ava, “the FAMOUS Monster Slayer,” uses all her resources to rescue her stuffed toy from the dark woods at camp.

This is not Ava’s first heroic adventure. In her eponymous 2015 debut, she was called upon to rescue Piggy from the basement. Now, Ava and her cousin Sophia are at overnight camp for the first time. Ava is “a little scared.” Sophia is “really scared.” The first night, they all go for an evening hike and eat dinner watching the sunset. But when they return to their cabin, Piggy and Sophia’s beloved Teddy are “GONE!” The counselors say it is bedtime. The boys are no help either. So Ava the FAMOUS Monster Slayer convinces Sophia to sneak out and save their friends. They make weapons out of common objects and prepare themselves for battle. They conquer a serpent, a flying creature, and the terrifying creature (which looks suspiciously like a tree) that has their friends in its clutches. Finally, thanks to “cousin power,” their mission is complete. The comic-book–style layout features the humorous first-person narration of a child who takes her tasks seriously. The crosshatched drawings let personalities shine but call a bit too much attention to the line marks, resulting in a slightly unpolished look. The combination of tenderness for stuffed companions and the fierce bravery required to rescue them is fun and refreshing. Both girls have light skin; Ava has straight, dark hair and glasses while Sophia wears her dark, puffy hair with a bow.

Light entertainment for kids who like drama. (Graphic fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4810-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A close encounter of the best kind.


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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