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RUBY ROSE, BIG BRAVOS

From the Ruby Rose series

Small children who love to wear pink and plié around the house will find this an agreeable read.

A little balletomane performs a duet with her bear.

The ballet-loving little girl who danced her way through the school day in her debut, Ruby Rose: Off to School She Goes (2016), returns for more of the same. Sitting at the breakfast table with her cooking dad, baby brother, dog, and beloved bear, she announces that there will be a dance recital. Donning her pink butterfly costume, Ruby Rose begins her preparations. A rainstorm is barely a deterrent to her poster-making, ticket distribution, costume and stage design, and warm-ups. (Ruby’s first ticket-delivery system is floating helium balloons; when they pop in the tree outside her bedroom, she diligently cleans up the remains.) Unfortunately, the storm threatens to keep the audience from attending, but soon the seats in the living room are filled, and Ruby and the bear, named Bearishnikov, dance a duet to loud cheers. Ruby and her family are white, and the small audience has a few persons of color. The digital illustrations range from full-page to spot art, with features depicted through dots for eyes and simple lines for mouths and noses. Grandparents sharing this title will know for whom the bear is named—Mikhail Baryshnikov—but this detail will likely soar over the target audience’s heads.

Small children who love to wear pink and plié around the house will find this an agreeable read. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-223571-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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