Sweet, with a few gaps.

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PRINCESS ARABELLA AND THE GIANT CAKE

Princess Arabella is back with her royal friends to create giant cakes for her grandmother’s birthday in this Belgian import.

Princess Arabella, a dark-skinned child with multipuff pigtails, enjoys her birthday party so much that even before its conclusion she wishes to have yet another one. When her father shows her a calendar explaining that she’ll have to wait until next year for her upcoming birthday party, Princess Arabella remembers that her grandmother’s birthday is only a couple of days away. Princess Arabella’s friends—Princess Ling (who’s Asian, possibly Chinese), Princess Sophie (who is white), and Prince Mimoun (who is implied Muslim)—each decide to bake the “biggest,” “yummiest” cake ever in the whole wide world. Each royal buddy makes a fabulous series of cakes that, when put together, create a colorful pastry extravaganza. But as Grandma samples the multihued dessert, the revelers can’t seem to find Arabella. Out jumps Princess Arabella from her cake for a big happy-birthday surprise for her grandmother. The illustrations are buoyant with color, interweaving the personalities and implied cultures of the children. Freeman misses a couple of opportunities by not using the different cakes to introduce varying desserts throughout the world and by not naming the specific cultures and ethnicities of the different royal children in a way that is both celebratory and informative.

Sweet, with a few gaps. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911115-66-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed...

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER

From the Turkey Trouble series

The fourth entry in the Turkey Trouble series finds Turkey and his animal friends attending a children’s Easter egg hunt at a park next to Turkey’s farm.

Turkey and his pals want to win an “eggstraspecial” prize at the egg hunt, but the event is only for children—not animals. So the group of animal friends decides to attend the egg hunt in disguise and treat their adventure as a “secret mission.” Their disguises include dark glasses and costumes suggesting a rabbit, a bee, and a bunch of daffodils, but each attempt to participate in the egg hunt is rebuffed by the human attendees. The animals work together to create a large, egg-shaped costume for Turkey from a wicker basket, and Turkey and the boy who finds him in egg mode both win special prizes. Turkey shares his prize of a huge, jelly-bean–topped pizza with all his animal buddies. The mildly humorous story has funny animal characters, inventive action, and lots of puns incorporating “egg” into other words. Cartoon-style watercolor-and-pencil illustrations add to the humor with amusing animal expressions and the ongoing series theme of silly costumes. Several of the children at the egg hunt are children of color; the other human characters present white.

Not the most eggceptional tale on the Easter story shelf but still a fun-enough outing for fans of Turkey’s holiday-themed series. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4037-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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