As substantive and satisfying as cotton candy.


From the Stella and the Night Sprites series , Vol. 2

Stella and her magic glasses are back in a new adventure about the mischievous little creatures that come out at night.

After meeting the Knit-Knotters (2016), Stella’s eager to see more of the night sprites, but when a friend loses a tooth at a sleepover, Stella hopes she’ll see the Tooth Fairy herself. What she sees, however, is a scooter-riding tooth bandit out to steal her friend’s coin from under her pillow and to replace it with a pencil sharpener. Hoping to guard against theft when her own loose tooth falls out, Stella visits the proprietor of the bead store, whose wand invested her glasses with magic in the first place. Now armed with a tiny whistle bead, Stella misses the Tooth Fairy but wakes up in time to meet tooth bandit Piper, who wants Stella’s coin to decorate her scooter. Some beads and a glue stick help Stella divert Piper from her coin. Summoning all the bandits with her whistle, Stella ends the depredations of the tooth bandits forever by showing them how to use beads to decorate their scooters. While Stella’s adventures have potential, they are dragged down by an excess of exclamation marks, wooden dialogue, and resolutions that come far too easily. The night sprites are developed with such dogged commitment to cuteness that they feel as manipulative and plastic as the pink aisle in a toy store.

As substantive and satisfying as cotton candy. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-82001-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A timely addition considering that interest in sending new probes—and people—to the red planet is ramping up.


A valedictory tip of the hat to the Opportunity rover, an “Interplanetary Detective” that far outlasted its original mission and also found telling evidence of water on Mars.

As has become usual for picture-book tributes to Mars rovers “Oppy” gets anthropomorphic features and feelings as well as feminine pronouns. Nevertheless, strenuous efforts to spare readers any confusion begin on the title page with a cautionary note about “fictionalized” content and finish off with a lengthy afterword that includes actual photos. In between, most of the light but specific informational payload is set apart from the narrative and printed in a different weight type. Having itself been finished off by a dust storm in 2018, Opportunity has since been buried beneath salutes to the currently active Curiosity. Still, as it operated for a record 14 ½ years, it does merit remembrance for longevity as well as a successful mission…and perhaps also for the five weeks it spent stuck in “Purgatory,” a sandy ripple that inspired doubtless frustrated scientists back on Earth to dub all such traps purgatoids henceforth. Slipping in the odd magnifying glass or deerstalker hat, Carter sets the wide-eyed wanderer wheeling over pink but challengingly craggy Mars-scapes. In one of the two scenes set on Earth, Oppy’s human crew includes both brown- and pale-skinned figures, one of the latter in a wheelchair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A timely addition considering that interest in sending new probes—and people—to the red planet is ramping up. (source list) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-319-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A heartwarming story with a bit of mystery, available in both English and Chinese.


In winter, an old man enters Cat’s Eye Hutong (alleyway or lane) with his bicycle, fitted with a rack filled with candied hawberry skewers, a Chinese treat.

He hopes to sell all so that he can buy medicine but first puts down a box of fish scraps in the snow. He calls for customers, but none appear. The charming, naïve watercolor-and–colored-pencil paintings begin to fill with feline images built into the architecture. Then a small child wearing a white medical mask (sometimes worn to prevent the spread of germs) buys a stick of hawberries, but as she walks off, the man notices a white tail peeking from her coat. Other young, masked buyers appear; all have tails, and one’s mask has slipped, exposing whiskers. Finally, a human girl buys the last stick, and when the old man asks her about the kids with tails, she informs him that only “Kitties have tails” but points up to cats on the rooftops all eating the red hawberry sticks. Careful readers will remember the fish left “as usual.” This book publishes simultaneously with an edition in Simplified Chinese, which features simplified characters and transliterated text in a small font directly above the characters. Backmatter includes a glossary keyed to intermediate-level readers, three-to-a-page thumbnails of the illustrations with English text, and note with cultural background (sadly missing in the English-only edition); further Chinese learning materials are available on the publisher’s website.

A heartwarming story with a bit of mystery, available in both English and Chinese. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-945-29519-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Candied Plums

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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