Kids will love this quirky quest and its uproariously unreliable narrator.

READ REVIEW

THE FORGETFUL KNIGHT

A forgetful knight goes to battle against the dragon that stole his horse.

In clever and catchy rhyming verse, the narrator recounts the knight’s quest to find the dragon. Except—the narrator can’t exactly remember the story so must constantly stop to try to work it out, the resulting improvisations creating a hilarious narrative that veers in absurd directions. “At last he found the dragon’s cave, / and strode right in, for he was brave. / Not brave, I mean he was quite scared. / Go in the cave? He never dared! / He grabbed his phone, he dialed home. / Said, ‘Mommy, help! I’m all alone!’ ” Eventually, the knight rescues his horse from the dragon’s belly, and then: “He BASHED the dragon on the head. / The dragon BASHED him back. They’re dead. / The end.” But wait! “Hang on,” the narrator revises again, assuring readers that the dragon didn’t really die but received a scolding, had a good cry, and mostly avoided eating pets after that. As for the knight, well, that bashing cost him his memory, and he is the narrator. Blunt’s whimsically detailed mixed-media illustrations employ a Fractured Fairy Tales aesthetic, depicting a carrot-topped white child knight and comically nonfearsome dragon; they suit the tone of the text neatly and greatly add to its comic effect.

Kids will love this quirky quest and its uproariously unreliable narrator. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4067-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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