Although the story may not make complete sense in our world, children will rejoice that everything comes together to make...

CINNAMON

“Cinnamon was a princess, a long time ago, in a small hot country where everything was very old.”

Written in 1995, this story has been available only on the author’s website or as part of The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection (2004). Now the tale of the sightless princess and the mysterious talking tiger is a picture book with graceful and vibrant illustrations by Srinivasan. Cinnamon has beautiful pearl eyes, is blind, and does not talk. Many try to teach her to speak, lured by the rewards offered by her parents, the rajah and the rani, but no one succeeds until the talking tiger arrives. “He was huge and fierce, a nightmare in black and orange, and he moved like a god through the world, which is how tigers move.” The tiger awakes in Cinnamon the crucial emotions of pain, fear, and love, and he tells her of the beauty of the world beyond—and finally Cinnamon finds that she has something to say. With turbans, jewels, and elephants in intense, matte colors, the detailed, authentically South Asian illustrations transport readers to the fantastical setting of this inexplicable story. With the rani’s crabby old aunt, the limerick-spouting parrot, and nods to British authors both famous (Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear) and obscure (William Cosmo Monkhouse), this story balances the odd and the whimsical, the bizarre and the beautiful.

Although the story may not make complete sense in our world, children will rejoice that everything comes together to make the princess happy in the end. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239961-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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