It’s a promising concept but a pallid conclusion.

SLEEPING CINDERELLA AND OTHER PRINCESS MIX-UPS

It rhymes. It has cute crossovers. It has doe-eyed princesses who are unhappy with their lots.

Snow White is tired of cleaning up after seven dwarves, so she takes a walk and discovers the lonely tower of Rapunzel. Rapunzel is all too thrilled to get out, and Snow White wants to be alone, so they switch places. Trailing her impossibly long, blonde locks behind her, Rapunzel meets up with Cinderella, who would rather sleep than go to a ball. Leaving the pumpkin coach to Rapunzel, Cinderella finds Sleeping Beauty’s bed and keels over into it, accidentally kissing the slumberer on the cheek, which wakens her. Bringing the story full circle, the no-longer-sleeping Beauty comes upon the dwarves’ house, where there is Stuff! To! Do! In the end, of course, the princesses sort themselves back out, with Lessons: Snow White gives each dwarf a chore; Rapunzel negotiates a day trip each week; Cinderella opts for college over a prince; and Beauty discovers knitting is less prickly than spinning. Bright colors, strong line, and clearly differentiated hairstyles and clothing do not quite make up for something of a clunker at the end: “So, by talking things through and her problems amending, / each girl truly made her own fairy tale ending.”

It’s a promising concept but a pallid conclusion. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-56564-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

THE LITTLE WITCH'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success.

THE MOUNTAIN WHO WANTED TO LIVE IN A HOUSE

A well-known New Zealand writer for adults offers children a tale about an inanimate object who wants to live like a person.

A mountain walks to town, where it meets Thomas, a white boy who stays behind when all the other people flee, and says: “I only want to live in a house.” Thomas decides that the mountain is too large for any house. There is a folkloric element to the tale, as Thomas tries in three ways to help the mountain get his wish. First he attempts to shrink the mountain with soap and water and then chips away at the stone. Finally, he decides that his father, an artist, will paint the mountain’s picture and put it in a house. He persuades the mountain that it can remain a place where people can enjoy picnicking and skiing and still live in a house with people, a Solomonic solution that may not resonate with the intended audience. The acrylic paintings, mostly in shades of brown and gray, are realistically rendered, except when the mountain comes to life with the craggy, anthropomorphized face of a sculpted idol. There is a surrealist, static feel to some of the paintings, and the language, no doubt aspiring as well to the folkloric, is stilted.

Although the author may be famous in the adult literary world, this story is not a success. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-002-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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