Should please Anglophiles fond of cozy, English cultural references and nonstop whimsy.

MR. TIGER, BETSY, AND THE BLUE MOON

A fantasy series opener from the author of Carnegie Medal winner Maggot Moon (2013).

Betsy K. Glory lives on a small island with her ice-cream–making dad, who owns a cafe; her ocean-dwelling mermaid mum pays them weekly visits. When Betsy and Mr. Glory deliver his latest concoction to an ice-cream–fancying toad, the amphibian reveals that she is Princess Albee, self-exiled from her home on Gongalong Island after her giantess half sister, Princess Olaf, made a wish that turned her into a toad, a wish Albee is unable to overturn. While confirming Mum’s assertion that Gongalong Island’s berries, when made into ice cream, grant wishes, Albee says they must be picked during a blue moon. Sadly, no one knows how to turn the moon blue. Worse, Princess Olaf has fenced off most of their island for her own use, making it nearly impossible for the remaining resident Gongalongs (tiny humanoids) to escape. When Mr. Tiger and his oceangoing circus, which features Gongalong acrobats, arrive on Betsy’s island, he hatches a plan to free the Gongalongs and Princess Albee. With an elaborately silly plot and flimsy characterization, the story feels rudderless; it lacks thematic heft. A few moments sparkle, though, and the abundant, imaginative illustrations (executed in blue, to match the blue type) provide continuity and quirky charm. Human and human(oid) characters default to white.

Should please Anglophiles fond of cozy, English cultural references and nonstop whimsy. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09516-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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