A well-told tale sure to enchant older and younger readers alike.

RIPPLE GROVE

Take a fairy-filled walk through the woods.

One pleasant day, Dad introduces his daughter, Stella, to Ripple Grove and tells her a story about the fairies who live there and protect the forest. He believes the fairies are real. Will she? Larson employs three different styles of illustrations: the first, lush mossy green forest and underground scenes; the second, a labeled cartoonish drawing identifying the characters; and the last, annotated maps of Ripple Grove and its multilayered magical world of the Underground Meadow, where an underground River with No Name helps magic crystals grow, and Hobb Hill, home of the Trelfs, “a dirty, rotten bunch who didn’t take care of their trees, or soil, or water” and whose land is dying. The Trelfs want to steal the crystals and keep all the magic while letting Ripple Grove and the fairies waste away. Dad’s storytelling, illustrations that turn somber, and well-timed page turns capture this tense conflict between good and evil as the tiny fairies defend their home from the giant Trelfs. At the end of the father’s tale, the pair head home. The story could end at Stella’s bedtime, but it doesn’t. Subtle hints in earlier scenes—a portfolio tucked under Dad’s arm—make sense when Dad gets to work drawing after Stella is asleep. Though younger children will enjoy hearing this read aloud, older ones will pore over the in-depth artwork. Both father and daughter present White; the magical beings vary in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A well-told tale sure to enchant older and younger readers alike. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64160-819-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A potential gift for fans of the contributors’ earlier work.

THIS BOOK IS NOT A PRESENT

A text-heavy, joke-filled monograph about a dreaded bestowal.

In this meta text, an unseen narrator gripes about everything they wish they had received as a present, including a dog and a skateboard. “Now I feel like I have to read it,” the narrator grumps about their book gift. In subsequent spreads, they express their frustration. Sensitive bibliophiles beware: The narrator is ruthless in their scorn of giving books as presents. Some may tire of the message, repeated page after page in different ways: “Look, I’m a doer, not a reader,” one page reads, accompanied by an image of a muscled arm. The narrator makes references to clogging the toilet with homemade slime (“I told them it most definitely wasn’t me”)—a moment that will appeal to older kids who can grasp and revel in the humor. Human skin is shown as printer paper white, tan, and blue. Layouts are boisterous yet uncluttered, using text in various sizes, colors, and fonts. Pleasant near-pastel yellow, blue, and purple back up goofy illustrations, sure to draw interest even if the quips go over younger kids’ heads. Some elements, like the desire to receive X-ray vision as a present, will resonate widely with the target audience, though the story largely treads similar ground as Greenfield and Lowery’s I Don’t Want To Read This Book (2021). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A potential gift for fans of the contributors’ earlier work. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46236-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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