A charming take on sibling conflict.

READ REVIEW

CLEVER LITTLE WITCH

With the help of a little magic, a young witch tries to make her annoying baby brother more tolerable.

Little Linh has all she needs to be “the cleverest little witch on Mãi Mãi Island”: a broomstick, a “book of powerful spells,” and a “rare and magical pet” (a glowing, winged mouse). What she does not need is a baby brother. Baby brothers sneak disastrous rides on your trusty broomstick, eat your spell book, use your pets against you, and disturb your sleep. No one else seems to need or want Baby Phu either—not the troll under the bridge, not the fairy queen in the forest, and certainly not the werewolves at the Orphanage for Lost and Magical Creatures. Naturally, magic will solve the little witch’s brother problem. With her spell book partially eaten, Little Linh gamely casts spell after half-concocted spell with the intent to transform Baby Phu into a nice goldfish. The results, though, are not quite what she had hoped. Her guesswork to repair the spell goes “terribly, terribly wrong”—but it turns out that having a little brother might just prove to be a lucky thing. Yum’s illustrations (acrylic gouache and color pencil) alternate perspectives and angles, energetically capturing the escalating sibling situation. Readers will recognize the looks of mischief, innocence, and determination on Little Linh’s and Baby Phu’s faces. Creatures—familiar and fantastical alike—give clues to the impending magical misfires taking place on this Southeast Asian island.

A charming take on sibling conflict. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8171-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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