Q POOTLE 5

A burned-out rocket booster puts a kink in pudgy, green Q Pootle 5’s plans to make it to his friend Z Pootle 6’s birthday party on the Moon. That booster looks remarkably like a tin can in Butterworth’s simply drawn cartoons—and indeed, after a forced landing on Earth, Q Pootle 5 finds that a more or less empty can of cat food makes the perfect replacement part. Once Henry the cat has finished his supper, of course, he makes certain it is empty and it does the trick. No, not exactly rocket science, but the pictures are well stocked with page-filling disaster noises—including a four-page, giant-sized “sssscccrrreeeeeeeee . . .” that is Q Pootle’s landing—and helpful earthlings, mostly of the four-legged variety. An unfolding, poster-sized party scene brings up the rear of this droll close encounter of the silly kind. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84243-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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THE MONSTER WHO ATE DARKNESS

Though bedroom monsters are a dime a dozen, this one’s a bit different. Looking like a black wombat with a bright-red clown nose, the Creature that lurks under wakeful young Jo-Jo’s bed is but the size of an ant. A hungry one, however, who starts absorbing all the darkness it can find. Going the “Fat Cat” route, the monster proceeds to swell as it sucks the dark not just from the bedroom but from the entire world and beyond—leaving confusion and dismay in its wake, until “There were no shadows and hardly any dreams. There was only the light. The stark and staring light.” Liao, a popular Taiwanese illustrator, creates polished, sometimes wordless cartoon scenes featuring a monster whose only scary characteristic is its eventual humongous size. Ultimately Jo-Jo’s tears draw the behemoth back to Earth, where a cuddle and a “darkness lullaby” puts them both to sleep and allows all the darkness to leach back into the universe. Not exactly entropy in action, but a cozy, if lengthy, bedtime tale nonetheless. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3859-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

THE LITTLE WITCH'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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