A pretty showcase for the artist but, considering the plethora of other renditions available, unsuited as preparation for...

THE NUTCRACKER

A PAPERCUT POP-UP BOOK

Parades of graceful dancers in and between intricately cut pop-up scenes decorate a slimmed-down version of the ever popular Christmas ballet.

The narrative being just a standard-issue plot summary with the violence toned down, it’s Patel’s illustrations that will furnish the draw. These alternate pages of text decorated with a corps of tiny costumed figures (all light-skinned and blue-haired) in balletic poses amid swirls or piles of toys with four folded pop-ups that, when propped open with thumb or fingers on the creases, stand up to reveal ornate, egg-shaped, cutout silhouettes of the presentation of the Nutcracker to Clara, the Mouse King’s attack, the Sugar Plum Fairy’s castle, and Clara’s return. Though hardly less delicate than spider webs, the pop-ups are so technically accomplished and unusual in design that they’re wasted on this pedestrian rendition of the story. The text relies on a surfeit of exclamation points to convey excitement and clumsily disguises ethnic stereotypes. An “Arabian folk dancer” has her face “partly covered to reveal only a pair of mysterious hazel eyes”; “male acrobats with pointy straw hats” pour tea while swinging on trapezes.

A pretty showcase for the artist but, considering the plethora of other renditions available, unsuited as preparation for attending a performance, a self-contained tale, or even, without some finagling, exhibition. (Pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-65124-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last

SHAI & EMMIE STAR IN TO THE RESCUE!

From the Shai & Emmie series

A book about rescuing in which no rescue happens.

Shai, an African-American girl, and her white “bestie-best friend,” Emmie, play in the school orchestra at Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts. One afternoon, Shai spots a brown-and-white critter in her family’s backyard garden and assumes it’s a stray cat. She draws a picture of it and creates posters to figure out which neighbor has lost the cat. When Shai lures the animal with food, she sees that it’s not a cat but a rabbit, but being a city kid, she doesn’t understand that it’s wild. After Shai and Emmie capture it in a pet carrier, Shai’s veterinarian mother explains that the rabbit should live wild in the city. Shai then finds a better pet solution, even though their household already has eight pets. Besides its child-star author and the portrayal of a positive cross-racial friendship, this novel has little to recommend it. The art may give readers a point of reference for some scenes, but it adds little to the story. Furthermore, though children might appreciate Shai’s made-up words and phrases (“hunormous,” “sleepifying,” “lickety-clean,” “amazetastic”), this book’s readers, who are likely new to chapter books, may find them difficult to decipher.

Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last . (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5888-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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