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ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER

From the Ella and Penguin series

Maynor, in her picture-book debut, tackles an oft-addressed phobia in an appreciated nonbedtime setting.

A little girl and a penguin conquer their shared fear of the dark.

Ella shows Penguin a sheet of astronomical stickers. The stars, rockets, and planets are special because they glow in the dark. But in order to see the glow, Ella and Penguin must go in the closet (a place where there might be spiders, big dogs, and maybe even narwhals). As they peer cautiously inside, Ella accurately points out, “The dark is so…dark.” They quickly amend their plan and find a place that is only somewhat dark. However, neither hiding in the bathtub, crouching under a laundry basket, nor ducking under umbrellas works. They must face their fear and enter the closet. They do so, flipper-in-hand, gripping tightly. A pitch-black spread heightens the reveal. “Penguin,” Ella admonishes, “Open your eyes.” A soft-hued phosphorescence lights up Ella’s and Peguin’s surprised faces. The dark is not so scary after all. In fact, it’s beautiful! (Bonnet’s control of lighting within her illustrations is all the special effects the book provides; the pages are not actually glow-in-the-dark themselves.) A sprightly girl with double buns in her dark hair and a tiny, squat penguin realize being brave is easy when you have a friend close by (glow-in-the-dark stickers help, too).

Maynor, in her picture-book debut, tackles an oft-addressed phobia in an appreciated nonbedtime setting. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-233088-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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WOO HOO! YOU'RE DOING GREAT!

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones.

What’s better than a cheerleading chicken?

Are you ever blue, unsure, tired, or overworked? Do you ever feel lost or overwhelmed? This uplifting book, expressed in delightful, jaunty verse, explains how to lift your spirits pronto: What you need is a booster chicken telling you’re doing great even when you’re not so confident, as when you’re learning or practicing a new skill, for instance. Your feathered champion will be right there, encouraging you all the way, with a loud “WOO HOO!” that’ll keep you going and remove any doubt you’re super terrific. But what if your cheerful chick errs and doesn’t do what it set out to do? Don’t worry—your cheery chicken just needs a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. That alone is a pep talk, enhanced by the wisdom that making mistakes allows everyone to learn and demonstrate they did their best. So forgive yourself, chickens! But the best thing is…instead of relying on someone else—like a chicken—to strengthen your ego, say a generous daily “WOO HOO!” to yourself. This riotous book hits all the right notes and does so succinctly and hilariously. The energetic, comical illustrations, in Boynton’s signature style, will elicit giggles and go far to make the book’s important point. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-48679-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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