Age-appropriate story sophistication outweighs didacticism.


From the Fairy Bell Sisters series

Fairy Golden Bell travels to the mainland for an adventure packed with fairies, fashion and bullying.

Queen Mab announces that her mainland cousin, Queen Titania, has issued an invitation to one Sheepskerry Island fairy to come and attend her fancy-dress party. The prestigious event includes a costume contest with prize. The Sheepskerry Island fairies decide that creative, fashion-loving Golden will best represent them, and she is thrilled at the chance to travel to the mainland. Once there, however, she discovers that people are curt, her hosts are snobs, and fairies who struggle with reading—like Goldie herself, who has special tutoring back home—are given up on and limited to servant positions. Her host and competitor in the costume contest, Claudine, discovers Goldie’s reading trouble and exploits it to sabotage Goldie, lying about the letter that tells the costume theme. Goldie constructs a witch costume while everyone else prepares pink princesses. Goldie overcomes her embarrassment by collecting new costume components on the way to the party, and with a quick alteration, she becomes a princess of the night. As the only standout in the sea of pink, Goldie’s originality wins the prize. The straightforward bullying storyline pleasantly surprises by touching on how bullies affect wider group dynamics. References to earlier books in the series enforce the familiar continuity.

Age-appropriate story sophistication outweighs didacticism. (Squeak’s glossary, Goldie’s cape instructions, music) (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-222808-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary...


Refined, spit-spot–tidy illustrations infuse a spare adaptation of the 1934 classic with proper senses of decorum and wonder.

Novesky leaves out much—the Bird Woman, Adm. Boom, that ethnically problematic world tour, even Mr. and Mrs. Banks—but there’s still plenty going on. Mary Poppins introduces Jane and Michael (their twin younger sibs are mentioned but seem to be left at home throughout) to the Match-Man and the buoyant Mr. Wigg, lets them watch Mrs. Corry and her daughters climb tall ladders to spangle the night sky with gilt stars, and takes them to meet the zoo animals (“Bird and beast, star and stone—we are all one,” says the philosophical bear). At last, when the wind changes, she leaves them with an “Au revoir!” (“Which means, Dear Reader, ‘to meet again.’ ”) Slender and correct, though with dangling forelocks that echo and suggest the sweeping curls of wind that bring her in and carry her away, Mary Poppins takes the role of impresario in Godbout’s theatrically composed scenes, bearing an enigmatic smile throughout but sharing with Jane and Michael (and even the parrot-headed umbrella) an expression of wide-eyed, alert interest as she shepherds them from one marvelous encounter to the next. The Corrys have brown skin; the rest of the cast presents white.

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which opens in December 2018. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91677-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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