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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.


From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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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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