UNICORN MAGIC

A troubled unicorn wonders what her special power might be.

All of Periwinkle’s friends have figured out their magical abilities. Ruby can paint the sunrise with magnificent colors. Pearl can spin clouds into playful shapes. And Marigold can plant meadows of flowers with a single twitch of her horn. Periwinkle sits glumly in Mellow Meadow, while glossy tears drip from her eyes, wondering what her magic might be. Her avian friend Birdie gives her the pedestrian advice: “You just need to believe in magic and follow your heart.” Variations on this useless advice (it’s literally magical thinking) are repeated throughout, and with no action to accompany it, the one-note theme is hard-pressed to carry through to the end. This contrived story of baseless self-confidence gets its sweetness from the sugary ambiance, not necessarily the text. Gibson’s (Wolfie Paints the Town, 2017) pastel paradise, constructed from felt, flourishes with sparkles, magical swirls, and of course, flowing manes and unicorn horns. Tiny tots who gravitate toward anything cotton-candy sweet will be enamored with this fuzzy, cozy world.

Platitudinous…but pink. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-81331-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Extremely simple and rather sweet.

BULLDOZER'S CHRISTMAS DIG

From the Bulldozer series

Bulldozer is worried about what to give his friends for Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Dump Truck is carrying, Digger Truck is stringing, and Crane Truck is lifting—all in service of decorating for Christmas. But Bulldozer is on the side, surrounded by cats, worrying. He has not a single gift for his friends. What can he do? He sees a tire half buried in the snow and wonders what other treasures might be there. He starts to dig, and he hits something…but it turns out to be junk. He keeps on digging and finds something else: “more junk.” He keeps digging and digging. The piles grow larger, the sky gets darker, and Bulldozer’s hope fades. But then he thinks he sees something through the snow. He pokes the pile of junk this way and that. He adds bits and pieces. As his friends call out to him that it’s quitting time, Bulldozer puts last touches on his gift. He moves aside to reveal his creation to his friends, and all are pleased with the gift. The little yellow Bulldozer with his entourage of animal friends is a likable character whose plight children will relate to and whose noncommercial solution is a model for creative youngsters to take as inspiration. Best for wrapping a message of giving within a truck-loving package full of sound effects. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Extremely simple and rather sweet. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3820-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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