There are definitely lessons about taking only what you need, about care for the needs of others and about listening to what...

THE CLOUD SPINNER

A boy with a singular talent catches the eye of the king, with ominous results, but it turns out well.

In rhythmic text that holds an occasional rhyme, the story unfolds. The boy weaves wondrous cloth from the clouds: gold in the morning, white in the afternoon, crimson at sunset, “[j]ust as his mother had taught him.” His mother also taught him to be sparing, so he uses just enough to weave a white scarf to protect his head from the heat of the day, and a gold and crimson one to keep him warm in the cold. The king, recognizing the beauty of the scarves, demands the boy weave a scarf for him. The boy boldly says the king does not need this, but the king insists. When he gets the scarf, he wants a cloak and dresses for his wife and daughter besides. The boy sadly complies, but then there are no more clouds, hence no rain, and the kingdom suffers. The young princess, however, returns the weaving to the boy, who releases the yarn and restores the clouds. Much happens in Jay’s luminous, crackle-finish pictures. Almost every cloud adopts a shape, from hats to fishes and strange creatures. The hills and the houses have gentle or surprised faces made of flowers and wildlife or windows and doors, so subtle one only notices them on the second or third reading. Her figures have roly-poly bodies and tiny heads, her colors simply glow.

There are definitely lessons about taking only what you need, about care for the needs of others and about listening to what is unsaid, but they are fully inside the story and only add to the pleasure. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87011-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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