Evil gets gooey comeuppance, and the forest is safe…for now.

SUPER SLUG OF DOOM

From the Super Happy Magic Forest series

Uh oh—the Super Magic Happy Forest (2016) faces a new, and particularly slimy, threat.

Sliding out from under his rock prison, twirly-mustachioed Zorgoth, self-proclaimed Super Slug of Doom, melodramatically proclaims, well, doom once he quaffs the Potion of Power. Cue the five unlikely heroes who rescued the forest last time: Hoofius the satyr, Herbert the garden gnome, Blossom the unicorn, Twinkle the fairy, and Trevor the ambulatory mushroom! Can they follow the ghastly gastropod’s winding green slime trail past an irate dragon’s molten hot tub, through a village of ogres, and over other obstacles to the mountaintop where a goblet of the puissant potion burbles atop its plinth? Long sends his intrepid questers through a series of full-spread cartoon scenes festooned with magical creatures, mishaps, puckish labels (the Happy Forest has something for everyone, it seems, from “free unicorn rides” to a “stable internet connection”), and side comments in dialogue balloons. In the end the slug is (nonfatally) squashed, his schemes are quashed, and the heroes left awash in admiration as the forest residents do what they do best…PARTY!

Evil gets gooey comeuppance, and the forest is safe…for now. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-05435-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse.

DAVID ROBERTS' DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT FAIRY TALES

Three classic fairy tales given 20th- (and 30th-) century settings.

Originally published separately between 2001 and 2016, the stories are massaged in ways that tone down the violence of pre-Disney versions and show off the illustrator’s chops as a caricaturist. In “Cinderella” (2001), the scenes are filled with flamboyant art deco fashions and details; the fairy godmother creates a snazzy limo to take young Greta to the ball; and rosebud-lipped, pointy-nosed evil stepsisters Ermintrude and Elvira survive unmutilated. Similarly, in “Rapunzel” (2003), the title character escapes her mid-1970s flat to run off with (unblinded) pop musician Roger, and in “Sleeping Beauty” (2016), when 16-year-old science-fiction fan Annabel pricks her finger on the needle of a record player, she falls asleep for 1,000 years. The three female leads project airs of independence but really have no more agency here than in the originals. The all-White casts and conventional relationships of the first two stories do loosen a bit in “Sleeping Beauty,” as Annabel, who seems White, is watched over by an interracial pair of motherly aunts and awakened at long last (albeit with a touch, not a kiss) by Zoe, who has light-brown skin and long, black hair. Notes following each tale draw attention to the period details, and even the futuristic city at the end has a retro look. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70 % of actual size.)

The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse. (Fairy tales. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84365-475-9

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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