Fans of Wells’ work will likely embrace Stella’s story, but some may wish she’d been allowed to confront her problems rather...

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STELLA'S STARLINER

Wells’ winsome animal characters are charming, as always, but her latest effort lacks coherence and depth.

The casual, colloquial tone suits the simple tale beautifully. Stella, a fox child, lives a happy life, secure in her parents’ love and seemingly unaware of her straitened circumstances. She loves her small, shiny trailer home, enjoys spending time with her mother and looks forward to her father’s weekly return on Sundays. Then some unfriendly weasels point out her poverty. Saddened, Stella tries to keep her emotions hidden, but her mother teases the truth out of her. Unfortunately, instead of allowing Stella to sort things out herself, Wells decides to solve her problems geographically. Stella’s dad hooks up the house trailer and hauls it to another, more welcoming (and tropical) locale, where the new neighbors greet Stella and her home with awe and enthusiasm. The abrupt ending may leave listeners wondering exactly what happened. They’re also likely to be confused by the contrast between scenes that suggest a mid-20th-century rural setting and the inline skates and baggy pants sported by the weasels. Overall, however, the variously sized mixed-media illustrations are captivating, featuring lush forests, starry nights, expressive faces and delightful details.

Fans of Wells’ work will likely embrace Stella’s story, but some may wish she’d been allowed to confront her problems rather than just running away from them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-1495-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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