DOUGLAS

In this superb companion tale to Cecil’s Lucy (2016), the worlds of a moviegoing girl, an audacious mouse, and a crafty cat mingle and clash in Bloomville.

It’s a Saturday afternoon. Drawn by the scent of popcorn, Iris Espinosa heads to the cinema, passing by a big cat “with six toes on each paw” and a stoop kid on her walk. Taking her place in “her usual seat” in the front row, the young girl sits enthralled by Robin Hood when a mouse with a popcorn-stuffed stomach approaches the adjacent seat. The mouse snuggles up to Iris—burrowing into Iris’ pocket—and ends up going home with her; she dubs the mouse Douglas in honor of her favorite actor. (Iris does not know that Douglas is, like her, female.) Now Douglas must brave the long journey—relatively speaking—back home to the cinema while eluding the hungry, terrible Six-Toed Cat, a master of patience “after so many years” of mouse-hunting experience. Similar to its beguiling predecessor, this adventure comes together in four acts full of quiet cliffhangers and thrilling mouse heroics. Cecil’s playful language and shifting third-person narration create contexts within contexts; each numbered chapter assumes the viewpoint of a character, major or minor, in ways readers might need rereads to fully appreciate. The artist’s duotone-spun, vintage artwork recalls the quaint splendors of yesteryear, peppered with minor visual gags and worldbuilding details. Primary human characters present white.

A splendiferous wowzer. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3397-4

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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