Just enough creepiness for a Halloween read-aloud.

SCHNITZEL

A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR LAZY LOUTS

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” gets a new treatment as Schnitzel, apprentice to the renowned wizard Sir Willabald, is loath to tackle the housekeeping.

The weedy, white youth, a self-described “lazy lout,” especially dislikes vacuuming, as he must use a temperamental, purple-tentacled beast of a machine. When a fanged salesman who resembles Bela Lugosi appears at midnight with a “Goooood evening,” the apprentice is more than happy to accept his offer to demonstrate the power of his fire-spewing vacuum cleaner. Echoes of The Cat in Hat abound, from the reference to the vacuum as “The Thing,” its red-and-white–striped bag, an umbrella stand, and the story itself, which the apprentice recounts in rhyming, first-person verse. The stranger is revealed to be a vampire when he threatens to bite the apprentice’s neck. Just in time, Sir Willabald restores order to the household with a great “POOF” of his wand in an expansive and very effective double-page spread. Primarily illustrated in gray-toned watercolors, splashes of color highlight the action. Pale, cartoonlike characters with outsized features match the lively text with exaggerated movements. Children will enjoy watching a housecat’s often hilarious reactions to the events throughout. An author’s note gives a brief history of the traditional story and some suggestions to children for writing their own versions.

Just enough creepiness for a Halloween read-aloud. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-957-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages.

FROG AND BALL

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Never underestimate the chaotic fun that magic and an angry bouncing ball can create.

When Frog goes to the library, he borrows a book on magic. He then heads to a nearby park to read up on the skills necessary to becoming “a great magician.” Suddenly, a deflated yellow ball lands with a “Thud!” at his feet. Although he flexes his new magician muscles, Frog’s spells fall as flat as the ball. But when Frog shouts “Phooey!” and kicks the ball away, it inflates to become a big, angry ball. The ball begins to chase Frog, so he seeks shelter in the library—and Frog and ball turn the library’s usual calm into chaos. The cartoon chase crescendos. The ball bounces into the middle of a game of chess, interrupts a puppet show, and crashes into walls and bookcases. Staying just one bounce ahead, Frog runs, hides, grabs a ride on a book cart, and scatters books and papers as he slides across the library furniture before an alligator patron catches the ball and kicks it out the library door. But that’s not the end of the ball….Caple’s tidy panels and pastel-hued cartoons make a surprisingly effective setting for the slapstick, which should have young readers giggling. Simple sentences—often just subject and verb—with lots of repetition propel the action. Frog’s nonsense-word spells (“Poof Wiffle, Bop Bip!”) are both funny and excellent practice in phonetics. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4341-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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