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Dig into this playful, beachy read.

Lola’s beach day becomes more enjoyable when she gets a little help from some friends.

The opening text adopts a cumulative pattern, reading: “This is the sandcastle that Lola built. // This is the tall, tall tower / Of the sandcastle that Lola built.” Lola starts off her construction alone, but after she’s topped the tower with sea glass “that signals mermaids,” the narration is interrupted by Lola’s own words: “This is the foot—‘Hey! You stepped on my sandcastle!’ ” Lola immediately forgives the boy (called only “the dude with a Frisbee” or “Frisbee Dude”) who’s stepped on her sand castle and invites him to build with her. He adds a wall, and the cumulative text moves on…until it’s interrupted by the arrival of a toddler and his toy truck. This pattern continues, with lines added to the cumulative text as both the sand castle and the group of children building it get bigger. Then, Lola is bereft when a big wave destroys their creation, but her new friends convince her to build a new one, together. Berube’s illustrations, done in mixed media and collage, add visual humor and interest with their expressive depictions of the racially diverse children and background details—including mermaids hidden in clouds and sea. Lola has tan skin and straight, dark hair; Frisbee Dude has pale skin and curly, red hair, and the little toddler has medium brown skin and, adorably, no hair.

Dig into this playful, beachy read. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1615-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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