THE BLUE BIRD'S PALACE

With its folkloric elements, positive but not preachy message about sharing, and strong visual presentation, this will make...

Natasha, deprived of maternal love by her mother’s death but adored by her farmer father, grows into a selfish young woman in this original tale “inspired by the Russian folk tradition” and first published in France.

She “grumpily” gives an old woman, accompanied by a beautiful blue bird, an apple and is granted one wish: a palace in which “I can invent all kinds of different rooms whenever I like.” The old woman imposes an important caveat. “You will not be able to leave this magical palace.” At first, Natasha is happy but grows tired of her solitude. Wishing for the old woman to reverse the situation, she is transformed into the blue bird for an evening flight. She sees the poverty of so many in the world and returns to her palace, a changed woman. She gives up her many rooms and begins to make bread and jam for the poor. Every night, as the blue bird, she distributes her gifts. Finally the old woman arrives, praises Natasha’s charity, and sends her home to find her father. The moral of the story is obvious, but the translated text is smooth. The sumptuous, stylized, full-bleed, double-page acrylic paintings, with jewellike colors dominated by blues are a delight, with their swirling designs and Slavic details. Hénaff depicts Natasha as an olive-skinned young woman with long, dark hair.

With its folkloric elements, positive but not preachy message about sharing, and strong visual presentation, this will make an excellent read-aloud. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84686-885-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

THE TREE AND ME

From the Bea Garcia series , Vol. 4

A funny and timely primer for budding activists.

Problems are afoot at Emily Dickinson Elementary School, and it’s up to Bea Garcia to gather the troops and fight.

Bea Garcia and her best friend, Judith Einstein, sit every day under the 250-year-old oak tree in their schoolyard and imagine a face in its trunk. They name it “Emily” after their favorite American poet. Bea loves to draw both real and imagined pictures of their favorite place—the squirrels in the tree, the branches that reach for the sky, the view from the canopy even though she’s never climbed that high. Until the day a problem boy does climb that high, pelting the kids with acorns and then getting stuck. Bert causes such a scene that the school board declares Emily a nuisance and decides to chop it down. Bea and Einstein rally their friends with environmental facts, poetry, and artwork to try to convince the adults in their lives to change their minds. Bea must enlist Bert if she wants her plan to succeed. Can she use her imagination and Bert’s love of monsters to get him in line? In Bea’s fourth outing, Zemke gently encourages her protagonist to grow from an artist into an activist. Her energy and passion spill from both her narration and her frequent cartoons, which humorously extend the text. Spanish-speaking Bea’s Latinx, Einstein and Bert present white, and their classmates are diverse.

A funny and timely primer for budding activists. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2941-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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