Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires.

GLORY ON ICE

A VAMPIRE HOCKEY STORY

Vlad’s search for relief from boredom has him signing up for ice hockey.

With his batwing cape, gray pallor, and pointy ears, nose, and teeth (not to mention the pronounced widow’s peak), Vlad looks comically menacing in the Count Dracula style. Hearing a group of children planning to “pound,” “crush,” and “destroy” their opponents is what first attracts Vlad to the idea, after he ventures from his mist-shrouded castle to the local community center. Vlad (with the “best hockey equipment that treasure plundered from ancient gravesites could buy”) falls in love with the sport, watches hockey videos, dreams of playing in the Olympics for Team Transylvania, and works to learn how to skate, pass, and shoot. People—like the salesperson at the hockey store—seem to react with some trepidation around Vlad, but his kid teammates (never named but diverse in racial presentation and including at least one who presents as a girl) are supportive and unperturbed, and a teammate’s mom helps him with his skates before practice. Vignettes of game play show Vlad in an enforcer role, elbowing his opponent in the head and shouting from the penalty box as an opposing player trips one of Vlad’s teammates. Though his team loses 57-0, it’s clear that Vlad has “come to love hockey even more than he loved chasing after terrified mortals.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.8% of actual size.)

Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1451-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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