A cotton-candy read for transitional readers.



From the Fairy Mom and Me series , Vol. 2

Fans find more magic mayhem in this sequel to Fairy Mom and Me (2018).

Ella’s good-hearted but inept Fairy Mom just wants to make things better, whether it’s finding a pet bird or enlivening a party. Ella can’t wait to be old enough to use magic herself. She watches as many of Mom’s online lessons with Fairy Tutor Fenella as possible. Until she gets a Computawand of her own, Ella serves as assistant and, in a bit of role reversal, often tells Mom the correct magic codes to undo her messes. Each episodic chapter is told through Ella’s eyes. In one, Fairy Mom disrupts Dad’s important lunch with his boss, Mr. Lee, and his wife, Mrs. Lee. Fairy Mom and Ella just want to find Mrs. Lee’s bird, but in the process they turn into monkeys! Oops. In another, Ella’s Not-Best Friend, Zoe, is underwhelmed by Ella’s birthday party. Fairy Mom is determined to impress with a big cake—but it keeps growing! Large typeface and plenty of dialogue make this easy to read, and the imaginative situations are captured in animated black-and-white cartoon art. In this throwback white-bread world, Dad is the annoyed authoritarian demanding, “No magic.” Characters are one-dimensional, and any diversity comes through secondary characters such as the Asian Lees. Activities at the close include a recipe as well as a word scramble, maze, and drawing prompt.

A cotton-candy read for transitional readers. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6991-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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From the Égalité series

A timely look at self-expression.

Kindergarten-age Ben paints his fingernails because he loves their colorful appeal. Unfortunately, not everyone does. While walking to school one morning, Ben is harassed by two other boys: “Painting your nails is for girls. You’re a girl! You’re a girl!” Ben initially internalizes the negative feelings but eventually tells his parents. Although Ben’s father shows solidarity by painting his nails as well, this does not stop the bullying. Ben sadly kowtows to gender conformity and paints his nails only on the weekend, although his father continues to pick him up after school with painted nails. On Ben’s birthday, his entire class surprises him with painted nails, and at recess, they do it again. End of story! Educators and caregivers should prepare themselves for the barrage of logical questions that are sure to follow: Why didn’t Ben’s parents talk to his teacher about the bullying? What happened the next day? Did the bullies learn anything? Books about gender nonconformity are needed, as are titles that celebrate general messages of acceptance, but this story is too superficial and the ending too slapdash to be worth the attention. Gusti’s illustrations, which echo the stylings of Jules Pfeiffer, do little to enhance the text. Most characters appear white, while darker-skinned characters are reduced to background filler only. The book is also available in Spanish.

Skip it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-59-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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