This slim chapter book has an even slimmer foundation.

KNIT-KNOTTERS

From the Stella and the Night Sprites series , Vol. 1

Stella encounters the night sprites, mischievous nocturnal beings that steal socks, hide the caps of markers, and knit children’s hair into knots, among other mild wickednesses, in this series opener.

Stella's dubious enough about getting her first pair of glasses that her mother's declaration that her hair is so knotted it will need to be cut comes as a real blow. How will anyone recognize her? Furthermore, her new glasses aren't nearly sparkly enough. But a mysterious, colorfully dressed woman who claims to be much older than she looks waves a wand, and suddenly Stella's specs are satisfyingly sparkly. She likes the new crispness of the world she sees and how easy it is to read now. That night, her glasses also reveal Trixie, a knit-knotter whose job is snarling her hair. It seems there's a hairy-fairy in town who's in league with the knit-knotters to drum up business for her new salon. Can Stella convince Trixie not to knot her hair and thereby spare her a haircut? Hay's premise is mildly beguiling, but her worldbuilding is arbitrary and incomplete—likely due to the need to develop further night-sprite stories. While she evokes the experience of the change wrought by a new pair of glasses well, the plot as a whole is less than compelling, and characterization is thin.

This slim chapter book has an even slimmer foundation. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81999-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary...

MARY POPPINS

Refined, spit-spot–tidy illustrations infuse a spare adaptation of the 1934 classic with proper senses of decorum and wonder.

Novesky leaves out much—the Bird Woman, Adm. Boom, that ethnically problematic world tour, even Mr. and Mrs. Banks—but there’s still plenty going on. Mary Poppins introduces Jane and Michael (their twin younger sibs are mentioned but seem to be left at home throughout) to the Match-Man and the buoyant Mr. Wigg, lets them watch Mrs. Corry and her daughters climb tall ladders to spangle the night sky with gilt stars, and takes them to meet the zoo animals (“Bird and beast, star and stone—we are all one,” says the philosophical bear). At last, when the wind changes, she leaves them with an “Au revoir!” (“Which means, Dear Reader, ‘to meet again.’ ”) Slender and correct, though with dangling forelocks that echo and suggest the sweeping curls of wind that bring her in and carry her away, Mary Poppins takes the role of impresario in Godbout’s theatrically composed scenes, bearing an enigmatic smile throughout but sharing with Jane and Michael (and even the parrot-headed umbrella) an expression of wide-eyed, alert interest as she shepherds them from one marvelous encounter to the next. The Corrys have brown skin; the rest of the cast presents white.

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which opens in December 2018. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91677-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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