A whimsical equine tale that emphasizes courage, exploration, and adventure.

A SPOT OF NEW

A horse becomes bolder and colorful when trying new things in Anastasia and Saunders’ rhyming picture book.

After a narrator implores a “brand new” white horse to “follow your heart,” the creature searches for adventures. The horse befriends a white mouse, and each time the two embark on a new endeavor, a colorful splotch manifests on their fur. When they’re unsure how to evade a tall wall, they don’t “give up hope”; instead the horse magically grow wings. The horse soars over the wall toward “the moon, the stars, and the sun.” The mouse doesn’t join because of a fear of heights, but the book reassures children that it’s OK sometimes to be afraid. Now multicolored, the horse keeps exploring the world and encourages a small white horse “lost in the darkness, alone without light.” The colorful horse explains: “You’ll soon have your very own spot of new, too.” Through its whimsical protagonist, the book shows how courage and connecting with others fosters growth, though when the horse and mouse bravely try berries on a tree, it doesn’t warn that some berries can be toxic. Anastasia’s spirited rhymes (“glisten and gleam…Sparkle and beam,” etc.) are engaging, and Saunders’ softly focused digital illustrations of a sweet-looking horse and mouse may encourage children to get out their markers or crayons and start filling in a page to color at the end.

A whimsical equine tale that emphasizes courage, exploration, and adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-952425-03-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Jackal Moon Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2022

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

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

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. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE

Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner’s bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo’s tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo’s tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2270-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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