Mia recognizes that she’s been given a special treat that doesn’t come to all children whose loved ones live far away, which...

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LAST STOP ON THE REINDEER EXPRESS

Mia makes a Christmas card to send to her faraway grandfather, although she’s afraid it won’t reach him in time.

At the Christmas market with her mother, she finds a mysterious mailbox emblazoned with the words “The Reindeer Express” and “Turn knob three times to send parcel.” Mia steps through a door to a marvelously decorated room, where a cheerful woman directs her through another door. Mia finds herself in a magical, snowy forest. A reindeer whisks her away over a moonlit harbor, past a wondrous, sparkly city, and finally to Grandpa’s home in the mountains. Rare for picture books, Grandpa is on the youngish side, with the same red hair and white skin as Mia and her mother; Mia’s glasses are another welcome feature. Stepping back through the mailbox, she finds herself back in the market and that no time has elapsed. She and her mother return home to celebrate a joyful Christmas. Die-cut pages and lift-the-flap doors—some pleasingly challenging to find—creatively provide a sense of magic throughout. The book’s delightful, quiltlike design and geometric shapes allow readers’ eyes to move easily across the pages to spot hidden doors and windows. Fir trees and onion-domed buildings decorate the northern scenes, and endpapers include maps with an arctic feel.

Mia recognizes that she’s been given a special treat that doesn’t come to all children whose loved ones live far away, which makes this title especially resonant for readers in her circumstance. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7166-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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