A mad-dash fever dream of a book peppered with magic, fancy, and just a little bit of soul.

READ REVIEW

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

An ill-used imagination conjures up some serious big-time baddies in this charming English import.

It’s bad enough when your sister is the family do-gooder, but now she can perform magic as well? And not just any magic either, since Lucy now has the ability to invent any creature from scratch. When a magic wood behind their home grants Henry’s sister this awe-inspiring gift, he soon learns that she’s in danger from her own creations. The garingay want to steal her away, the yo yitsoo are on the prowl, and dangerous cupcakes are shrinking their victims at a frightening rate. Solving this puzzle means figuring out a way to un-invent the worst of the creatures before Lucy is stolen once and for all. Part of the book’s charm is that it reads like a highly logical stream of consciousness with a bit of dream logic thrown in for spice. Readers hoping for a familiar story arc may find expectations upended by the book’s many quiet passages and repetition. Illustrator Donnelly’s jolly pen and inks, in which Lucy is depicted as light-skinned (implying that Henry is too), reflect the lighthearted goofiness of the writing, even if she has an occasional tendency to take the author’s descriptions as only mere suggestions.

A mad-dash fever dream of a book peppered with magic, fancy, and just a little bit of soul. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-911427-01-8

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Everything With Words

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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