Underneath the sparkle there’s a solid story.


From the Wish List series , Vol. 1

Isabelle’s starting the first level of Fairy Godmother Training, and things don’t look good.

Her sister’s a prodigy, and her Grandmomma wrote the rule book on proper fairy-godmother practice—literally—but Isabelle’s more like her scandalous mother, long-banished and the reason for the rules. Well-meaning and enthusiastic, Isabelle struggles with following instructions and studying. If she fails, she’ll have to go to the Fairy Godmother Home for Normal Girls and learn nonmagical work in a sparkle-and-wand–free environment. She’s assigned a practice princess, Nora Silverstein: not actually a princess but a regular girl. Isabelle has six weeks to create Nora’s happily-ever-after, but Nora’s a serious, practical girl, the kind who wishes for impossible-to-grant things like world peace. In spending time with Nora in hopes of discerning a grantable wish, Isabelle strikes a friendship with her—which in itself grants Nora’s wish for a friend. But the happy ending—Isabelle progresses in her training and learns that part of her trouble with reading fine print and rules stems from a need for glasses—is undermined by the revelation that the practice princesses will forget their fairy godmothers. Saving their friendship means breaking yet another rule (and setting up a sequel). Isabelle’s a smart and likable protagonist, and the third-person narration, refreshingly, assumes readers just like her. Isabelle and Nora are both white, but other fairy godmothers and princesses come in all colors.

Underneath the sparkle there’s a solid story. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-94151-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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