More Mosswood, please.

A miniature witch tends to a forest over the course of a year.

Little Witch Hazel lives in Mosswood Forest in a home at the base of a tree trunk. Her distinctive personality is fleshed out vividly throughout this thoroughly satisfying set of four stories, one for each season. Stoic, diligent, and giving, Hazel nurtures an orphaned owl egg in spring; is convinced by friends to take a day off in summer; helps a lonely troll in autumn; and is saved from a storm in winter by Otis, the owl she once mothered. The detailed, evocative worldbuilding will have readers lingering. They’ll meet a friendly and funny (especially the chipmunk with the toothache) community of anthropomorphic creatures, such as Wendell the sailing frog and Mousepappa (who wears the apron and takes care of the babies). Many creatures are fantastical (dryads, goblins). Refreshingly, nothing is sanitized: Little Witch Hazel is not gaunt and whimsical; she’s curvaceous, sturdy, and strong. She even has hairy legs; she has more important things to do than shave, such as serve as midwife to Mrs. Rabbit. The writing is lush and lyrical (“milky clouds…hung low”), and the textured, earth-toned illustrations expertly capture Hazel’s world, both cozy (her tiny home) and gloriously wild (the forest she tends to). Hazel is White; the “beasts of all shapes and sizes” readers meet include fantastical creatures of color and one who uses a wheelchair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More Mosswood, please. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6489-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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

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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019


A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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