From the sparkling shower of confetti on the book cover to the high-octane antics of an obsessed fan in a flower-petal tutu,...

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SOPHIE JOHNSON, UNICORN EXPERT

This story’s protagonist is extremely serious about her favorite subject: Every waking moment is spent conducting research about and training the 17 unicorns in her midst.

From a stuffed rabbit with a carrot held on by a headband and a toy ambulance outfitted with a toothbrush to a baby sibling with a cone tied to their bald dome, everything in Sophie’s orbit becomes a captive student unicorn. Leading by example, the earnest girl in oversized spectacles lectures her unicorns on how to stalk food with a bow and arrow and how to avoid balloons, all the while managing horn regrowth. Soon, the willing playmates notice an actual unicorn, first spotted carrying a rainbow suitcase and strolling in the cotton-candy and candy-cane forest on the title page. The silent creature sits in on the classes, wide-eyed and observant, but Sophie is too absorbed in her mission to notice. White backgrounds showcase the individual and joint activities of the lively figures as the understated, first-person narrative unfolds. Okstad creates depth and energy by foregrounding solid colors and placing pastel patterns, floating shapes, and architectural details outlined in thin black lines in the background. Sophie has black hair, and she and her toddler sib are paper-white.

From the sparkling shower of confetti on the book cover to the high-octane antics of an obsessed fan in a flower-petal tutu, this imaginative tale of a unicorn (non)sighting will appeal to the legions of fellow enthusiasts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3161-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

RUBY FINDS A WORRY

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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