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Not truly magical but fun and appealing.

A feline magician learns there’s magic in manners.

Marigold, a chubby, round-eyed, orange-and-white cat, goes all out for his birthday parties. This year, he’s performing a dazzling magic act. One trick goes awry, though: A bouquet that should vanish becomes a finch! Perfectionist Marigold believes he forgot the magical incantation. Trying again, he’s annoyed when the finch remains; still, the guests cheer. Marigold utters a different spell and two pigeons appear; the audience roars. Next try: three sea gulls. Marigold’s livid, yet everyone howls. This sleight-of-paw thing’s not working, and when his final attempt yields another failure, disconsolate Marigold shrieks for his audience to disappear. Finally, success! Realizing he needs to do something to coax partygoers back, Marigold says the best magic words there are. This works, too: Everyone returns—with some surprise visitors. The lively, energetic watercolors stand out and drive the story well. Marigold is highly expressive, his face and large eyes registering self-satisfaction, bluster, anger, and bewilderment to appealing comical effect; endpapers display accoutrements of the magician’s trade. Many words are capitalized in larger fonts throughout to heighten humorous dramatic tension.

Not truly magical but fun and appealing. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3743-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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